Snooze, siesta, lie down, shut eye, catnap – no matter what you call them, naps aren’t just for the kids. It’s been proven time and time again that the benefits of napping can greatly help your general health, especially when it’s clear we aren’t sleeping enough at night. The Center for Disease Control reports that 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis at night, which leads to increased health issues like obesity, high-blood pressure, and many other chronic conditions.
For people dealing with sleep deprivation or a “sleep debt,” incorporating naps into your daily routine can actually be a solution to your issues. It’s hard to imagine adding another thing into your schedule, but the benefits from napping regularly, whether you’re sleep deprived or not, can far outweigh the costs of setting aside just 30 minutes a day.
The Best Nap Length.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, 20 minutes is the best nap length for most adults. This amount of time allows a napper to enter the first, lighter stages of REM sleep, which help improve alertness, put you in a better mood, and can help you overcome the post-lunch energy slump.
Sleeping longer than 20 minutes still offers many restorative benefits for a napper – like improved memory, creativity, and allows your internal organs to repair themselves – but a longer nap can leave you feeling groggy and potentially worse than before you napped. If you want to take a longer nap, aim for at least 90 minutes so that you go through a full REM sleep cycle and wake feeling refreshed.
|20 minutes||Improved mood, energy, alertness and memory.|
|30– 60 minutes||Enter deeper stages of REM sleep and improved memory, but may wake up feeling groggy.|
|90 minutes||Complete one full sleep cycle, helping you wake feeling refreshed, with improved memory and creativity.|
Tips for the Perfect Power Nap.
Here are a few tips you can use to help you fall asleep quickly and get the restorative benefits of napping:
1. Consider Your Nap Environment
Just like your night time sleep environment is important, so is your napping environment. Consider laying down on a supportive and comfortable surface rather than attempting to fall asleep sitting up. Dim the lights or make the room completely dark, and adjust the room temperature to around 18°c if possible. Have a sleep mask and earplugs handy if you’re not able to completely control your nap environment.
2. Set An Alarm
If your nap environment is too good, you may nap for too long. For best results, try to nap between 1-4 PM, usually after your midday meal when your blood sugar and energy starts to dip considerably. Set an alarm to wake you up after 20 minutes with a sound that is loud enough to wake you up, but not so aggressive that it puts you in a poor mood. You could even drink a cup of coffee before you take a nap. The caffeine will kick in and help you wake up naturally after about 20 minutes.
3. Get Back Into Action
Avoid any post-nap blues or the trap of falling back asleep and snoozing too long by getting up as soon as your alarm goes off. Stretch, grab a big, refreshing glass of water and jump back into your day with fervour and a renewed sense of energy.
4. Analyse Your Night Time Sleep Routine
While napping can be a part of a healthy routine of those adults that get 7 or more hours of sleep each night, if you’re not sleeping well, it’s important to analyse your night time sleep routine. Going through multiple full sleep cycles is more important than relying on a nap or two to get you through the day.
Make small changes to your routine by setting an earlier bedtime for yourself, shutting off electronics earlier, and finishing workouts and big meals earlier in the night. Larger changes like using blackout shades, investing in a new mattress, and seeing your doctor for a check-up, can help you improve your sleep quality.