How To Set The Stage For a Perfect Nap
We’re here to help you perfect the art and science of napping, from timing to temperature to helpful tips.
Napping for 20 minutes is the perfect time to get into non-REM sleep without entering the deep sleep cycle, which will leave you feeling refreshed rather than groggy.
Make sure your nap environment is dark, quiet, and cool.
Relaxation techniques like meditation, lavender oil, and weighted blankets can help you to get to sleep quicker.
Did you know?
A shot of espresso or two before your nap can make you extra-alert when you wake up, as the caffeine takes 20 minutes to get into your system.
Napping isn’t just for toddlers anymore. Taking a quick afternoon siesta may be just what you need to avoid burnout at work, eliminate brain fog, enhance creativity, and be able to power through the rest of the day. There’s no shame in taking a little shut eye!
However, when it comes to napping, it’s easy to get it wrong and feel personally victimized by a bad nap. You know, the kind where you wake up feeling groggy, disoriented, and more exhausted than when you lay down your head.
We’re here to help you perfect the art and science of napping, from timing to temperature to helpful tips. You’ll wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle whatever else you have going on until sundown.
Timing Is Everything
As with most other things in life, perfect timing is key. If you’re wondering just how long to nap for, we have your answer. To enhance productivity as much as possible, napping for just 20 minutes is the way to go. Much longer than that, and you run the risk of waking up just as you were getting into your deep sleep phase. If you awaken during deep sleep without completing that cycle, you will experience the dreaded post-naptime grogginess.
Sleeping in the sweet spot of about 20 minutes means your body will get into non-REM sleep without entering REM sleep. REM sleep, or rapid eye movement, is the deep sleep stage that takes about 60 minutes to complete. (If you’re interested in learning more about your sleep cycles, check out our post on REM!)
If you’re very behind on sleep and you have the free time in your day, a 60-90 minute nap will give you a full sleep cycle to catch you up. However, if you’re just needing a quick reset in the day (and you’re not George Costanza with a fully equipped nap station under your desk at work), 20 minutes will get the job done.
And how about the perfect time of day to nap? Typically, early afternoon is best. Too late in the day and you may run the risk of impacting your nighttime sleep. Taking your nap between 1 and 3 P.M. tends to be a good time.
Dr. Sara Medrick, a psychology professor who studies sleep, has an interactive Nap Wheel to help you best determine the timing for your ultimate nap, based on science. Spinning the wheel to your wake-up time will show you the ideal time that your REM and slow-wave sleep would be perfectly proportioned. Wake at 8 A.M.? Your ultimate nap is at 2’oclock!
Set Up For Success
Another important aspect of napping is your environment. Some things are pretty obvious: if you’re surrounded by screaming children or a concert going on behind you, you likely won’t be able to fall asleep. Setting yourself up for success means perfecting the noise, light, and temperature around you.
Most people sleep best at a cooler temperature (after all, no one likes to wake up dripping in sweat!). Crank down the thermostat or use some fans to keep the temperature down (this applies to both naptime and bedtime).
Even if you tend to sleep on the warm side, you’ll stay cool with our Tree Napper weighted blanket, which is the best weighted blanket for hot sleepers. It can help to both relax your body for the nap and keep things cool, as the fabric’s made of an ultra-cooling, plant-based tree fiber called TENCEL™ Lyocell. No sweaty sheets here!
If you can, lay down or recline as much as possible for the best quality and most comfortable nap. Sleeping sitting up can sometimes lead to a stiff neck and shoulders.
We also need to keep the room quiet and dark. If you’re unable to shut the shades or achieve complete darkness, we’d recommend a blackout sleep mask. As for noise, you can use earplugs, comfortable headphones, or a white noise machine to drown out any workplace chatter or general household noises. Lastly, put your phone on silent and make sure to set an alarm. Daniel Pink, the bestselling author of the book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, sets his alarm for 25 minutes. This allows him about 10 minutes to fall asleep and 15 minutes to snooze.
Extra Tired? Try A Nap’uccino
A coffee nap, a caffeine nap, a nap’uccino. All similar phrases for drinking some caffeine right before you nap. Although it may sound counterintuitive to falling asleep, caffeine takes about 20 minutes to get into your system, which is about the exact time you’ll be napping! So, if you’re feeling extra sleepy, this method will have you feeling extra energized post-nap.
We’d recommend skipping the sugary caffeine (looking at you, soda and energy drinks) in lieu of a quick shot of espresso or two over ice that you can down without burning your throat. Even if you don’t set an alarm, your body will likely wake you up when the caffeine hits, but we’d still recommend setting one anyways!
Can’t Fall Asleep?
Even when we are uber tired, sometimes falling asleep is just hard to do. If you’re in the tired-but-wired crew, try downloading a 10-minute meditation for sleeping track on your phone. If you don’t have that option, deep breathing and visualization can do the trick.
Sniffing lavender can also help you to wind down. If you don’t have an essential oil diffuser, you can look into roll-ons. Roll it onto your wrists with a dab under your nose and let the lavender soothe you to sleep. If you start smelling lavender oil each time you sleep, you can also begin to train your brain to associate the scent with slumber.
Another relaxation tip is to use a weighted blanket, which can help you to reduce cortisol (your stress hormone) and increase serotonin (your happy hormone), which then leads to more melatonin production (your sleep hormone). Happy hormones, happy napping.
Let’s Get Napping
Feeling ready to join your 3-year old in her afternoon nap time? With these tips, you’ll be heading off to non-REM sleep in no time. Get that espresso machine pulling, the sleep mask ready, and your weighted blanket nearby. We’ll see you in 20 minutes, looking and feeling refreshed and rejuvenated!