5 Tips for the Best Nap Ever

Much of Brazil, Spain and parts of Africa and China have daily naps as part of their culture. Napping is seen as a normal part of the sleep cycle. It turns out the people in these areas of the world may be on to something.

Research shows that, along with fighting off mid-day grogginess, naps may support learning, memory, problem solving and creative thinking. Some employers are even taking notice, setting up nap rooms or creating other conditions to allow workers to take a quick snooze at work.

There are other benefits of a daily nap, too. Because people breathe deeply while napping, a nap provides increased oxygen to the cells and tissues—especially the brain—and revitalizes the cells. Napping is also a tremendous stress reliever, so if you’re feeling overwhelmed, try turning in for a quick nap, and you’ll likely feel more relaxed afterwards.

If you want to work napping into your sleep schedule, follow these five tips.

#1 Nap at the same time every day

Just like experts recommend going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, it’s best to nap at a consistent time, too. This helps your body become ready for the nap and expect sleep. That way, when nap time comes around, it’s easier to move into sleep mode and fall asleep faster.

#2 Make sure the environment is right

Find a napping location that is dark, quiet and cool. An eye mask and ear plugs can help create a noiseless, dark environment if you’re having trouble finding the perfect sleeping spot.

#3 Use deep breathing to help you drift away

Often, it can be difficult to fall asleep, especially when you first begin napping regularly. Use deep breathing and try to keep your mind from wandering to your stressors or to-do list. Some days, however, you will find that you just can’t fall asleep. That’s OK—your body probably just doesn’t need a nap that day. If it takes you more than 10 to 15 minutes to drift away, get up and get going with your day.

#4 Nap for only 20 to 30 minutes

Napping is healthy, but only in the right amount. Sleeping for much more than 30 minutes can have the opposite effect, making you feel drowsy upon waking. Aim for 20 to 30 minutes of sleep, and you’ll likely wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the second half of your day.

#5 Set an alarm

Don’t rely on your brain to wake you up. Instead, set an alarm. I find it works best to set my alarm 40 minutes from when I lie down, giving me enough time to fall asleep and enjoy a 30-minute nap. Some fitness bands even have a nap setting that lets you program the band to vibrate a set amount of time after you fall asleep. The band senses your movements, detects when you fall asleep, and then wakes you up at the appropriate time. Brilliant!

If you feel tired during the day, look first to your nighttime sleep to make sure you’re getting the recommended 8 to 9 hours of sleep nightly. Then, consider adding a nap to your daily routine. You may just find that you feel better and more alert than ever.

How do you make sure to get plenty of sleep?

[1] http://www.howsleepworks.com/anthropology_cultures.html
[2] http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Health_Letter/2009/November/napping-may-not-be-such-a-no-no
[3] http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Health_Letter/2009/November/napping-may-not-be-such-a-no-no