Do you feel as if you walk through most of your days sleep-deprived? That feeling may be correct. Too many people today stay so busy that sleep becomes a secondary priority. Fortunately, there's a solution to those afternoon slumps or failures to get enough sleep at night. Yes, we need 7.5 or eight hours of sleep per day — but that doesn't have to come all at once. An afternoon nap could be the answer to your sleep deprivation.
If you think of napping as something that's only for babies and preschoolers, it's time to widen your horizons. There are several kinds of naps, each of which is beneficial for different types of people at different stages of life.
Taking a nap doesn't only help little children feel refreshed and at peace with the world. A midday nap can make a big difference to adults as well. Take a look at some of the many benefits associated with napping.
Once you realize the powerful benefits of napping, how do you access them? After all, very few people can simply will themselves to sleep at any time of the day. These tips and tricks should help you take advantage of the benefits of productive napping.
If you have a long drive ahead of you, take a short nap before you start to prevent becoming drowsy on the road. If you find yourself starting to fade away while you're behind the wheel, pull over to the side for a short nap of 20 minutes or so — then boost your alertness further once you wake up with some caffeine.
If you're working the night shift or pulling an all-nighter to finish a paper for school, the nap you take before your stressful night can make all the difference. Set aside enough time to make sure you're adequately recharged — as much as two hours — and put it in your calendar to give yourself permission to check out for that time.
So-called "power naps" work best if you keep them to around 20 minutes. This type of nap refreshes your mind and body and boosts your alertness without creating sleep inertia, which is that groggy, disoriented feeling that you can experience as you emerge from a deep sleep.
If you nap too late in the day, you may find it difficult to fall asleep that night. If you try to nap in the morning, your body may refuse to sleep. An early afternoon nap — for instance, right after lunch — is the best time to reap the greatest benefits from napping.
This tip may seem counter-intuitive, but studies show that it takes a while for caffeine to produce its well-known energizing effects. If you're planning a 20-minute power nap, drinking your coffee before you settle down means that you'll wake up just as the caffeine starts to kick in, so you can skip any grogginess and get right back to work.
The ability to fall asleep quickly is often affected by your sleep environment. Look for a spot where you can lie down fully. Limiting the amount of noise (possibly by wearing earplugs) and light is key, as is napping in a room with a cool, comfortable temperature.
If you're able to get enough sleep at night regularly, napping may not be a necessary part of your life. But when you find yourself with a sleep deficit or need a little midday boost of energy and alertness, napping comes to the rescue with what you need.
© 2021 American Sleep Association.