A nap can maximize your sleep health. Take advantage of its benefits and make sure that you’re not disrupting your regular nighttime routine in the meantime. You’ll find that you feel more well-rested and able to achieve more throughout the day.
But the big question is: how long should you nap for? What is the exact amount of sleep you need to be happy? This answer varies depending on your regular sleeping habits, but most experts say that a quick 20 to 30 minutes is an optimal nap length.
The idea of taking a short nap versus one that’s an hour or longer is that you only enter the first stage of sleep, which is the lightest. This leaves you feeling less groggy than coming out of a deep sleep. An early afternoon snooze can boost your performance, increase your focus, and ultimately, improve your mood throughout the day. Think of it as a midday jolt of energy for your body.
Another reason for the short nap is that typically that’s all that people have time for. To make the most of your naptime without disrupting your regular sleep schedule, here are a few tips to follow:
By taking advantage of the power of a nap, it can prevent the effects of sleep deprivation on the brain and give the body a true break during the day. If you don’t have time for a nap or aren’t a nap person, try meditation instead. This also allows the body and mind to relax quietly without falling asleep.
Hectic lifestyles usually mean limited breaks, which can trigger health problems and result in burnout. A quick 15-20 minutes every now and then to take a nap or meditate won’t prevent you from getting what you need to get done. In fact, it may cause you to achieve it faster.
Although naps aren’t meant to replace your regular sleep, they can have a positive impact on your health benefits. Naps can potentially improve your alertness and mood. They also help to relax and boost your energy level. If you can plan a schedule to work out, you can certainly plan a schedule to nap as well. (Sleep fitness, after all, is integral to overall fitness.) The more consistent you are to the schedule, the more your body will become familiar with napping, helping you reap more of the benefits.
Taking a nap is also positive for your mind as well. It helps to reduce stress and anxiety, and gives your brain a nice break.
Although you can use your bed for a nap, it may be more difficult to wake up from a short slumber since your room is likely set up for a full night’s sleep. Instead, you may want to pick a comfortable, quiet area like a couch or guest room to lie down. Either way, make sure the room is cool enough to rest comfortably. Play soft music or invite a little bit of natural light into the room to avoid oversleeping. Silence your phone and limit other distractions.
The urge to take more frequent or longer naps may mean you’re not getting enough sleep at night. If you’re feeling extra fatigued lately, consider how much sleep you’re receiving on a regular basis. Take into account the consistency and quality of your sleep as well. Napping too long or too regularly during the day may make you feel groggier than before. Try to stick with shorter nap times when needed as part of a regular sleep schedule.
Also, if you lie down to take a nap and don’t fall asleep, you may have needed a quiet “timeout” rather than a full-blown nap. Consider what your body needs to feel restored. Some days it may be sleep, while other days may call for a brisk walk around the block or a few moments of meditation instead.
Napping is one way to improve the amount of sleep you get, but it’s not the only way to improve your overall sleep health. Setting the stage for a good night’s sleep is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves. Quality, consistent sleep is as important as any other facet of health, such as diet, exercise, and proper hydration.
Sleep impacts our physical condition as well as our mental well-being. Other ways you can improve your sleep are:
By maximizing your sleeping conditions and creating the most comfortable space possible, you’ll be able to get to a place that’s healthy and consistent. Sneaking in a nap every now and then doesn’t make up for lack of sleep at night. It’s meant to complement your sleep pattern and give you the added boost of energy that’ll help you crush your daily goals.