Plenty of us often find the need for a nap, whether its acclimatising to a new routine or working split shifts, it can be that extra bit of rest you need to get you through the day. However there are plenty of ways of getting it wrong, leaving you waking up feeling even more tired and than before. Here at Sleepy People we care about you getting the best sleep possible, even if that is just a nap, so here are our tips on how to perfect the art of napping.
Keep naps short
One of the most crucial facts about sleep is the process of sleep cycles. Usually an uninterrupted sleeper will go through 5 stages of sleep, stages 1, 2, 3, 4 and REM (rapid eye movement). The completion of these five stages is called a cycle, which will generally take 90-110 minutes to complete.
Each stage has a different depth of sleep, with 1 and 2 being the lightest. 3 and 4 are generally seen as the deepest, with the average person moving into stage 3 after roughly 30-40 minutes, thats why you should try and keep your naps to below this time. If you allow yourself more than 40 minutes your body will be in a deeper sleep, and therefore will react worse to being woke up, one of the reasons for feeling groggy and even more tired post nap.
Even research giants NASA have weighed in on the power of napping, with the results of a 2012 study showing that the optimum length of time for a nap is 26 minutes exactly. They found that when their pilots had 26 minute naps their efficiency improved by 34%, perhaps thats one stat to show your boss next time you debate “post lunch naps”.
Siestas exist for a reason
Though it’s not exactly engraved in our culture, siestas are commonplace in many others. Commonly a siesta is taken between 1-4pm, and this is because the afternoon is the best time for a nap, provided you don’t have an unusual lifestyle. Studies have proven that siestas can improve work productivity, reduce stress and improve alertness and memory.
Other more recent studies into naps have concluded this to be true. In fact following the study Vincent Walsh, a professor of human brain research at University College London said following the study that humans have only adopted long night time sleeping patterns since the industrial revolution, and before then most people would have broken up their sleep across at least two smaller patterns. He also concluded that napping can improve creativity.
Create the right environment
As outlined in the first tip, a nap should only ever last a maximum of 30-40 minutes to ensure you don’t fall into a deeper sleep. To take this a step further and make sure you remain in a lighter sleep, you should consider napping somewhere which is not your bed. A bed designed for someone to have a prolonged sleep in, and therefore is too risky for someone who is looking for a cheeky half an hour.
Better options would be in a comfortable chair or if you are at work perhaps on the break room sofa or even under your work desk. If you struggle to get comfortable outside of your home, why not try taking a pillow with you?
Never feel guilty
One of the common reasons people opt out of taking a nap is down to thinking they might be “wasting the day”, but you can’t let that idea ruin your nap. As mentioned above, napping can improve productivity, so if you feel completely burnt out in the middle of the day, why not grab 20 minutes to refresh your brain and reap the rewards later on?
Hopefully the above tips will guide you on the path towards the perfect nap. They can be vital in improving your productivity and creativity, so if you feel you’re lacking in either come the early afternoon, try it out.