|THE NATURE OF NAPPING|
When done right, napping can be an effective pick me up.
When 80% of Americans feel groggy during the day, they turn to caffeine as a sleep substitute. But there’s another tool in the refreshment toolbox that’s a more beneficial alternative.
A nap can help you reset and recharge physically and mentally. A quick snooze during the day can help restore alertness, improve performance, increase concentration and reduce mistakes. Then there are the psychological benefits. A nap serves as a mini-escape, providing relaxation and rejuvenation.
Not all naps are created equal. Before you schedule your next siesta, keep in mind that there’s a right and wrong way to nap. You’ll get the most benefit out of a daytime doze if you follow a few simple rules to ensure you wake up feeling alert and ready to take on the rest of the day.
Length matters. A short nap of 20-30 minutes is ideal. This amount of sleep can leave you feeling rested without waking up groggy or interfering with your nighttime sleep. Sleeping longer than 30 minutes can leave you in a state of inertia -- that hazy or disoriented feeling that results when you’re awakened from too deep of sleep. It can last anywhere from a few minutes to half an hour, and it’s especially harmful for those who must get things done immediately after napping. To ensure that you don’t nap too long, set an alarm or ask someone to wake you up.
Perfect your timing. The time of day can be just as important as how long you nap. If you nap for too long or too late in the day the length and quality of your nighttime sleep may decrease. However, if you try taking a nap too early in the day, your body may not be ready for additional sleep. Most people experience a natural dip in energy between 1pm and 3pm, making this the most effective time to nap.
Be one with your environment. Just like for nighttime sleep, the environment where you nap can be crucial to the caliber of rest. Find a calm, comfortable place to lie down with limited sunlight and pick a quiet spot to ensure that you won’t be disturbed. Try using a sleep mask or eye pillow to block out light.
Don’t just lie there. While some may argue that simply lying in bed has its benefits, it’s best to actually fall asleep and catch some Zzz’s.
Listen to your body. If your eyelids are drooping and your head is nodding, your body is primed for a quick, refreshing nap. Take advantage.
Done the right way, a quick catnap has a lot to offer and no one should dismiss its benefits. While daytime shuteye has its fair share of stigmas, it’s not just an effective pick-me-up for children, the sick, or the elderly. Napping correctly can leave you feeling rested and ready to take on the remainder of the day. Next time your day needs a boost, lie down and hit the restart button.