Feel Refreshed After Taking The Perfect Nap Time
A great nap can make all of the difference in your day. Naps can be the key to helping you keep your day as productive and effective as possible, even if you aren’t getting your eight hours of sleep at night. Whether you are struggling to get through a long work shift, or you need to find a way to stay more alert—if you are sleep deprived, it can make even the simplest of activities almost impossible. The good news is, the right nap can fix all of this and help you get the rest that you need.
Naps aren’t just for tired new-parents, night owls or insomniacs—naps can be for anyone that needs them. However, the art of the nap is more complex than just sleeping when you are tired in the middle of the day. If you know when, where and how to take the right nap, your mid-day snooze can end up being refreshing and restorative, even if you don’t have much time to take a snooze. If you are planning on taking a nap during the day, here are some tips on how to make the most of the time that you have and the most out of the naps that you are able to take.
Did you know there is more than one type of nap? While it may seem like all naps are just naps, there are actually three main categories of naps. According to most sleep experts, naps can be categorized into three different categories:
Preparatory Naps- These naps, also known as planned naps, are naps that you take before you actually feel tired. This is a great option if you know that you are going to be up later than your normal bed time, or want to be more alert during an evening activity.
This is also a great option if you want to prevent yourself from getting tired during the day. If you know your body and know how you tend to get later in the afternoon a preparatory nap can be particularly helpful if you have something big on your agenda.
Emergency Naps- This may have a bit of a dramatic name, but emergency naps are naps that happen when you all of a sudden feel so tired that you just can’t continue doing what you are doing any more. This type of nap is important if you feel so groggy that you can’t do something potentially dangerous, such as drive a car. This is also a sign that you likely aren’t getting enough sleep at night.
Habitual Naps- These naps are not the same thing as planned naps. These are naps where you take a nap at the exact same time every day. This is something that small children do to help with their sleep schedule and something you can do as well to help with your sleep schedule and to help prevent that routine afternoon drowsiness.
Knowing these types of naps and what types of naps you are most prone to can help you moving forward as you keep these nap tips in mind.
When to Nap
While some people think that the best time to nap is simply when they can’t stay awake any longer during the day, it is more specific of a science than that. After all, waiting until you actually can’t keep your eyes open can be a bit of a safety risk. It cannot only put your health at risk, but putting yourself in a position where you are this tired can put you at risk for falling asleep when behind the wheel or operating potentially dangerous equipment.
The first, and most important thing that you should be doing is trying to get more than 6-7 hours of sleep per night. Eight hours is best. After that, the next best thing you can do is to take a strategically placed nap during the day. There is the right time and the right place for playing catch-up on your sleep, which is why it is so important to know when to nap. If you tend to nap during the day, but find that those naps don’t help you feel refreshed, or they keep you up at night, then you may not be napping at the right time. Here’s what to know about napping at the right time.
Your sleep schedule actually has a very serious impact on when the right time to nap is. Most sleep researchers will agree that the best time to nap all depends on when you wake up in the morning. While there are different philosophies on exactly when this right time is, the general rule of thumb is about 6-8 hours after you wake up. It is all about finding the perfectly balanced state between your REM cycles and what is known as your slow-wave sleep. For example, if you wake up between 5 AM- 6 AM, your idea nap time is around 1 PM. If you wake up between 7 AM- 8 AM, you should nap around 2 PM. However, if you don’t’ wake up until 9 AM, your ideal nap time would be around 3 PM.
Think about when you wake up, to make the most out of your nap time. If you aren’t completely sure of your sleep schedule, do you best to get on a set schedule first for at least a week. Do your best to get up and go to bed at the same time every night—and then plan out the best time to take your nap. You should also plan on taking that nap at the same time whenever you do take a nap to keep your sleep schedule set and regular.
Afternoons are the best time to nap (in case you didn’t already know). There are so many people who reach that mid-afternoon drag in the middle of the day. You know the feeling, when the afternoon hits at work and you are sluggish, sleepy and unable to stay focused at your desk. This time of day is actually the best time of day to nap.
This can seem particularly frustrating if you have a job where you don’t have the time to nap during this time of the day, but according to research, if you are looking for a nap that will help you feel relaxed and restored, this is the time of day to do it. You may be surprised to find that the afternoon nap, or siesta, wasn’t really that popular until the 1980s. Researchers began looking into the power of a nap and what it can do for your sleep cycle and productivity, if you take regular naps during the day in the afternoon. This doesn’t have to be a long nap either, it just has to be timed at the right part of the day.
As for the research into this topic-studies found that naps aren’t just great for your sleep when you put them into your schedule, they are naturally the time of day when our bodies want to sleep. Research into the topic indicates that if humans were left to their own natural devices (meaning no obligations, kid schedules or work commitments), they would naturally sleep one time per night for a longer stretch and one time in the afternoon for a short stretch. So, if you can work some time for a nap into your lunch break or afternoon activities—go ahead and start making it part of your day, and you can thank us later.
Time it Right
Timing is of the essence when it comes to a successful nap. After all, this is the best way to nap smarter. You don’t have to nap for a long time in order to feel well rested, you just need to know how long to nap for. In fact, if you take too long of a nap, it can actually cause you to make up feeling more tired and groggy than you did before you took your little snooze. Research shows that while the best nap times can vary from person-to-person, the best nap length is between 10-30 minutes.
Don’t just take a nap and expect you will wake up when you are ready. You should always set an alarm when taking a nap—even if you don’t have a commitment to wake up for. Setting the alarm will make sure that you are timing your nap correctly. There is another philosophy on nap times as well that you may want to consider. There is a theory in the popular book Outliers by Malcom Gladwell that suggests you actually drink your caffeine right before you take a nap, so that it naturally kicks in after about 20 minutes to wake you up and help you feel more refreshed.
There has actually been a great deal of research into this theory, beyond just Gladwell’s own thoughts. This research found that drinking caffeine before a nap works better than napping or drinking caffeine independently. The author of this book also found, in his research, that he believes the ideal nap time is 26 minutes.
Happy Napping Place
When it comes to a successful nap, location is key! While there are some people who feel as though they could nap anywhere—the right “happy” napping place can help make sure you are enjoying a better sleep experience. The right napping place doesn’t necessarily need to be your bedroom—it just needs to be a dark, quiet place where you can lie down undisturbed. It typically helps if the room is cool, but not cold.
If you are someone who is particularly sensitive to noises or light when trying to sleep, make sure to get the right accessories—like an eye mask or white noise machine. After all, you have less than 30 minutes to take your nap, so you don’t want anything distracting you from getting the rest you are looking for.
If you wish that you could take regular naps, but find that you simply can’t drift off, no matter how tired you feel, then you may want to consider meditation. Meditation is a great tool for a number of reasons, but it is particularly helpful for those who find their mind races too much for them to relax and take a nap, even when they are tired.
If you are new to meditation, consider trying a guided meditation to help you drift off to a great nap. There are thousands of free guided nap meditations online and these meditations will help you learn how to breathe properly, relax your mind and focus your concentration so that you can clear your busy mind and mind a sense of relaxation. The great thing about meditation is that it is safe, natural and doesn’t require any caffeine or drugs.
Avoid Being the Employee That Sleeps At Work
It would be great if every work place just let you take a nap whenever you wanted—but that isn’t typically the case. You may find that you push yourself so hard and sleep so little that you sometimes just can’t help but fall asleep. However, while naps are important, being that guy or gal that falls asleep at work is not a good look—no matter how laid back your boss is. If you find you are someone who drifts off at their desk, it is time to really look at your sleep schedule and make some changes to prevent this from happening.
If you are getting less than 8 hours of sleep per night, do your best to change that sleep schedule in order to get more rest. If you are allowed to take a longer lunch break at work, consider using that time to squeeze in a quick 20-minute nap, even if it is in your car. This will not only prevent you from looking bad in the workplace, but it will help you get the restorative sleep that you need, because napping sitting up is never going to leave you feeling as rested as you want it to.
Feel More Rested and Focused After Taking The Perfect Nap Time
Whether you are someone who likes to take a nap each and every day as part of their routine, or if you are looking for tips on how to make the most of nap time when you need to take a quick snooze—keep these tips in mind. Instead of reaching for another cup of coffee—consider these nap tips to help you nap better and nap smarter. The right strategy for your nap can go a long way in helping you feel more rested, focused and ready to take on the rest of your day!
Lisa Czachowski is a professional social blogger and has worked on several online publications including Citrus Sleep. Lisa is an experienced content writer and copyeditor. You will find many of her works throughout CitrusSleep.com that cover a wide array of subjects including sustainability, natural, sleep products, health, fashion and many more. She is passionate about what providing as much information as possible on products you bring in your home and what we wear.
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