Some people find it hard to get through their day without a short nap in the afternoon.
If you are one of them, don’t feel guilty! Afternoon naps are not a sign of laziness, and they’re not only for kids and babies.
Our energy levels take a dip early in the afternoon, so The National Sleep Foundation recommends a 20-30 minute nap daily to restore alertness and improve performance. Their research shows that a nap of this length won’t leave us feeling drowsy and will not affect nighttime sleep.
According to the foundation, there are three types of napping:
1. Planned napping, which includes dedicating a time for a nap, instead of waiting until you become too sleepy.
2. Emergency napping, when you suddenly feel overwhelmingly fatigued, and you can’t continue the activities you were doing.
3. Habitual napping, when you nap approximately at the same time every day.
As research shows, to receive the maximum benefit, we need to maintain our circadian rhythm (internal body clock) stable. This means napping at around the same time every day.
Maintain our circadian rhythm stable regulates our hormone levels, our body temperature, our metabolism, and our immune system—and it also ensures that we sleep more soundly throughout the night.
Energy levels differ from person to person, but their pick is usually between around 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. That’s why the optimum time for a daytime nap is after lunchtime. That also means the nap doesn’t occur too late in the day so that it won’t have any impact on our nighttime sleep.
Additionally, daytime napping is supposed to reboot our system and leave us feeling relaxed and rejuvenated, and not exhausted or disoriented. So, if we don’t feel alert and refreshed afterward, we may be doing it all wrong.
Here are several tips for the ideal daytime nap:
- Set an alarm clock to gently wake you up.
- Make sure there won’t be any noise interruptions. Therefore turn off the tv and close windows to avoid hearing sounds from any outdoor activity.
- Turn off the lights and close the curtains.
- Lie down comfortably and make sure you won’t be disturbed.
- Put a blanket over your body, because when you’re sleeping your metabolism slows down, so your body loses temperature.
- Avoid sleep inertia (that disoriented, zoned-out feeling) by trying not to sleep over 30 minutes.
- Drink some honey and lemon water both before and after the nap.
- Make sure you have a period of recovery time free after the nap so that you can awaken fully before going on with activities.
Waking up at around the same time every day also helps to keep your circadian rhythm balanced, refresh and awaken your body and mind.
It takes approximately 30 days to reset your body clock, so if you are new to napping, you might feel a bit jet-lagged at the beginning, which is totally normal, until your body and mind adjust to the alterations.
A NASA study on astronauts and military pilots discovered that a forty-minute nap during daytime improved their performance by 34%—and alertness by 100%. The research also discovered that those who did nap made fewer mistakes and also had fewer accidents.
According to another study, a lack of sleep can make us feel more emotionally reactive or eblocked. Additionally, judgment might become skewed, our speech could become impaired, and that can lead to poor performance and functioning. We may also struggle to process emotions.
When we regulate our sleep patterns, and we’re not sleep deprived, we’re more likely to be balanced and stable. Try it, and you’ll feel calmer and more rational, your perception is likely to be heightened, and your general health and well-being will be boosted.