People who take time out to enjoy daytime naps may face ridicule from friends and peers. After all, putting as much time into work as possible is necessary for success, and rest time is useless. Or is it?
Recent research says that just isn’t true at all and that daytime naps can make you a better performer while you are awake.
What Happens During Daytime Naps?
Your body uses sleep to recharge itself physically and to process the information your brain has accumulated since its last break.
Research has shown that the right side of your brain is especially active while you are asleep. It is sorting through your memories and experiences and placing those you need into long-term storage. When you wake up, your brain is ready for new information.
How Long Should You Nap?
Many people say they don’t nap because they wake up feeling worse than before they went to sleep. This may be due to sleeping for the wrong amount of time.
A full sleep cycle is when your body goes through all five stages of sleep, moving from light sleep to very deep. How you feel when you wake up depends a lot on which stage your brain was in at the time.
Most people go through a full sleep cycle in 90 minutes. If you have the time and are tired enough, take a full 90-minute nap to recharge your body and your brain. Most people opt for a shorter nap, and the key is sticking to a short burst of energy-building sleep.
Sleep professionals tend to agree that napping for less than 20 to 25 minutes will give you that burst of energy you want from a nap. Even 5 minutes is enough to give you some benefits. If you nap longer than that, however, you are risking sleep inertia. That’s when you wake up in the middle of the wrong cycle and have trouble becoming alert.
A 20-minute caffeine nap is a popular choice for many nappers. Drink a soda or cup of coffee fairly quickly, and then nap for 20 minutes. The caffeine will be kicking in as you wake up, and you’ll find yourself energized for quite a while.
When is the Best Time to Take a Nap?
Many people become sluggish and foggy just after lunch. There are many reasons this can happen. If your midday meal included a lot of carbs or sleep-friendly foods, your body may be reacting.
You could also be dehydrated. Or your body’s natural rhythms could be working against you. It’s common for your body to experience a slight decrease in temperature during the afternoon. Your brain may react by creating melatonin, a hormone that tells your body it’s time to sleep. If you’re going to have a nap, follow your body’s lead and try to recharge around 2 pm.
How Do You Get the Best Nap?
For optimal napping, find a place that is calm, quiet and dark. Wear a sleep mask and earplugs if necessary. Recline completely if you have access to a bed or a sofa.
It’s possible to sleep sitting up, but it can take you a lot longer to slip into dreamland.
Try not to stress about falling asleep. Instead, meditate on a topic that you find soothing. Set an alarm so you don’t have to worry about sleeping too long.
Don’t listen to nap negativity. Sleeping during the day can help you work smarter, focus better and be more creative while you are awake. And when you carefully consider the details of your naps, you will find that the benefits can be life-changing.