If you find yourself counting down till bedtime everyday, then listen up! You're not alone. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a third of American adults say they're not getting the recommended seven hours of sleep on a regular basis. Naps are not just for cranky babies and cats; they are beneficial to everyone. Naps help boost immunity and reduce stress. They are much more effective energy boosters than grabbing yet another cup of coffee. Like everything else, there is a science to getting the most out of your nap. Factors like when you nap and how long you sleep can make a huge difference!
Best time to nap
Humans have a natural cycle, a circadian rhythm, which affects our body's behavior. This pattern causes us to feel sleepiness and wakefulness throughout the day. It explains our mid-day crash, which usually occurs from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Rather than reaching for that caffeine, try a taking a nap instead.
Best Nap Environment:
- Find a quiet and relaxing place to nap
- Make sure you are in a dim to dark room to stimulate melatonin, a hormone that spurs sleep
- Lie down! It takes 50% longer to fall asleep while sitting upright
- Set an alarm to make sure you wake up!
10-20 minutes: “The Power Nap”
This is the ideal nap length if your goal is to get a quick energy boost before you return to your daily routine. A power nap is great for enhancing alertness, stamina and concentration. It can even elevate your mood, sharpen your motor skills, and improve muscle memory. As an added bonus, a power nap is easy to wake up from.
Pro tip: Drink a cup of coffee before you take a power nap. Caffeine takes about 20 minutes to kick in so you will wake up ready to go.
30 minutes: “The Bad Nap”
Taking a nap for any amount of time will be beneficial, but a 30 minute nap has gotten the reputation as “the bad nap.” This is because it may cause sleep inertia. It's a groggy feeling, like a hangover, that lasts up to an hour after waking up from a deep sleep. So take our advice and just avoid the 30 minute nap.
60 minutes: “Slow Wave Sleep Nap”
Slow wave sleep means you’re reaching the deepest part of sleep, REM sleep. This will improve your cognitive memory processing. It can also help to boost brain power, improve memory, and increase learning ability. This type of nap is best done before a big presentation, a test or an important meeting. Be sure to give yourself an hour after your nap so you can fully wake up in case you have any sleep inertia.
90 minutes: “Full Sleep Cycle Nap”
If you’re feeling extra exhausted and want to take a longer nap, try to sleep for at least 90 minutes. This length will allow you to go through an entire sleep cycle and avoid post-nap grogginess. A full sleep cycle nap can help improve creativity, memory and motor skills. It is also great for clearing your mind and repairing your muscles and bones. It's best to do it before a project deadline or a big test.
Next time you need a mid-day pick-me-up, step away from the coffee machine, and try a nap. You’ll wake up ready to conquer the rest of your day.