Whether you are sleep deprived or simply looking for a way to relax, a nap probably sounds like a great idea. But did you know that napping at the wrong time or for the wrong reasons can actually harmful? We’re here to help clear the air and share with you the do’s and don’ts of napping.
Let’s make sure you get the most out of one of life’s simple pleasures.
Did you know that there are people out there who dislike naps? While it might sound crazy to some, these nap haters might be on to something. Napping certainly isn’t for everyone. Some individuals simply can’t get to sleep during the day or have difficulty sleeping in places other than their own bed, which any seasoned napper can tell you is sometimes necessary.
You know, trains, planes, cars . . . occasionally the freezer section in your local grocery store. We’ve all been there right? No? Just me? Let’s move on!
Ever wake up from a nap feeling groggy and disoriented? Maybe wondering what year it is? Much less what time. This is called sleep inertia; Sleep inertia is a physiological state of mental impairment, basically meaning your brain isn’t quite awake yet. Sleep inertia is common in many people for the first 15 to 30 minutes after waking up, but for some, this state can last for hours. This is when it becomes a problem and unfortunately shows that maybe naps aren’t for you.
Other than the chilly discomfort of frozen meals, napping can also cause negative effects on your normal sleep schedule. Even though short naps don’t generally affect nighttime sleep quality, for those who already suffer from insomnia or other sleep disorders, napping can worsen these problems. Long or frequent naps can also lead to a poor sleep schedule. As hard as it might be to admit, our nighttime sleep is more important than an afternoon nap.
Perks of Napping
Let’s get to the fun part of naps, the benefits!
I think the majority of people can list the benefits of napping. When done correctly, napping can be a great way to relax. Think of it like a reset button, leaving you refreshed and ready to face the rest of the day. There are so many problems that napping can fix!
Does your job require you to be alert and on top of your game? Naps!
Need to have quicker reaction times? Naps!
Better Memory? That’s right! Naps!
The nuclear waste crisis? Naps! Just kidding, but have they tried a nap?
Are you a grump in the afternoon? Nothing a nap can’t fix! Napping has been shown to improve one’s mood, which can certainly help with those afternoon blues.
The Art of Napping
Now that we’ve discussed the do’s and don’ts of napping, let us discuss the art. The best nap, is a well-executed nap. It’s all about the length, the timing, and the atmosphere.
While you might be tempted to nap until you can’t nap no more, this is not the way. The ideal amount of time to nap is only about 10 to 20 minutes. While this might sound short, it is the perfect amount of time for your body to hit that reset button. Any longer and you risk that groggy feeling, which really defeats the purpose. This said, young adults and kids are typically able to nap for longer or more frequent times.
Naps are best taken in the early afternoon. My favorite is right after lunch! When you nap after 3 p.m. you run the risk of messing with your nighttime sleep. Keep in mind that certain factors can affect this timing, such as your age, medication use, and your sleep schedule (looking at you, night shift workers).
What really makes a nap special for me is the environment. The atmosphere if you will. Napping in a quiet, dark place, similar to when you’re getting ready for your nighttime sleep, will help you get to sleep quickly. Limiting distractions and having a comfortable room temperature can also help! Nothing like a nice cold freezer . . . (Room! I mean room!) to help you drift off.
Should I Nap?
To all of you non-nappers out there, a nap is sounding pretty good now isn’t it? Do you too wish to become a part of this well-rested club? If you are new to the napping game and deciding if it is right for you, here are some times you should consider taking the dive.
Has your boss scheduled you for an extra-long work shift? Are you anticipating some sort of sleep loss? A nap is a great way to give you that boost to get through the day!
Maybe you are just having a sleepy day and really need a pick me up. As we talked about before, taking a proper nap can leave you feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.
Has this blog made you want to incorporate a nap as part of you daily routine? As long as you follow the steps for the ideal nap, you should be well on your way! Just remember to pay attention to your nighttime sleep. You may need to adjust your napping technique if it's causing you to lay awake at night.
Now get out there, get comfy, and nap your best nap!
Written by D. Maves for Access Health Care Physicians, LLC
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