Whether you aren’t sleeping well due to children, stress, or just waking frequently throughout the night, you may find yourself drifting mid day. If you are finding yourself dragging from after lunch until bedtime, that makes for a very long day.
If you have ever thought just a couple minutes of shut eye could solve your groggy problem but worry about the logistics of a nap, there are ways to get just the right amount to refresh, but not to put you under.
There is a difference between a long nap and a short refreshing one. Most of us avoid naps because they make us feel disoriented, and well just plain crabby.
Not wanting to spend the afternoon regretting the nap we took, we often suffer through being tired most of the day.
There is such a thing as a good nap and a bad one. Knowing how to nap productively will make your day more productive, and you less exhausted all the time.
What are the rules for good napping?
The biggest hurdle to taking a nap is finding the time and location to partake. The ideal time for someone to take a nap is between one o’clock and four o’clock. If you are a full time student, or work full time, you can see why that may be problematic.
The good news is that it only takes 10 to 20 minutes of nap time to increase your alertness, boost your energy, and provide you with a much more positive outlook. Surely you can find 10 to 20 minutes during the day, sometime after lunch, to gain the benefits from a little snooze.
If you are lucky enough to have the time, the best option is to take a nap that is about one hour in length. An hour nap gives you enough time to go from deep to light sleep, and to not wake feeling more groggy than you would have otherwise.
The worst case scenario is something called sleep inertia. It is when you are awakened from a deep sleep. When you haven’t had the time to transition from deep to light sleep, it can leave you feeling cheated. When you wake without going through the proper sleep cycles, it can make for a very miserable afternoon.
To benefit from a nap it is best to find a quiet place to just shut your eyes for a while. If necessary, set an alarm and just close your eyes.
Even if you aren’t able to drift off to sleep, you will still gain the benefits of quiet time to refresh and rejuvenate your mind and body.
Finding a place for the perfect nap
We have all experienced the perfect nap. Like a perfect meal, it is something that you remember and dream about.
Instead of searching for the perfect nap, realize that any time you can just rest your eyes, you are going to gain benefit.
If you have an office, shut the blinds and lay back in your chair. If you feel comfortable doing so, finding a space on the floor to lay flat and relax is a great way to rejuvenate.
If you aren’t lucky enough to have your own space at work, the car is an excellent place to find peace and serenity. Just make sure to avoid too deep of a sleep by setting alarm limits.
How long should you nap?
There is no perfect amount of time to nap that is good for everyone. In general, there are guidelines to adhere to that will increase the odds that a nap will be a beneficial and pleasurable experience.
Depending on the time available, and the goal of the nap, these are the generalities of time:
When you sleep for just a brief time you are able to avoid the deep stages of sleep that involve REM which is rapid eye movement.
Just a short nap will increase your alertness, boost energy and give you a fresh start to the afternoon.
30 minutes is the nap length that you should avoid. It is the time frame that is most likely to result tin sleep inertia.
It is enough time to transition to deep sleep, but not long enough to reach the stage of light sleep. It is not uncommon to wake disoriented and for it to ruin your afternoon.
60 minutes is just enough time to go from deep to light sleep. It will leave you refreshed and better able to concentrate on tasks.
If you are having a hard time focusing, or paying attention, a 60 minute nap may be just the cure you need.
The most ideal amount of time to nap, it gives you the fresh start to undue a bad night’s sleep. It not only improves your mental process, it refreshes your physical ones as well.
It will help you to increase hand eye motor skills and other large muscle functioning. If you have the time, a 90 minute nap can give you a new lease on your afternoon.