You may or may not be aware that napping has a number of health benefits. This little boost in the middle of the day can catapult you from that early afternoon lull into an invigorated, energised and proactive person.
The problem many of us have is getting it right. There is no doubting that there’s a certain art to napping. Getting it wrong means you sleep too long and feel even worse than before.
Getting It Right
There is a delicate balance which must be respected in order to have the perfect nap. In order to achieve a perfect nap, one must time it correctly.
Web MD suggests that the perfect nap length for boosting alertness is 20-30 minutes. This is because during this time we are in the first of the four stages of sleep, which is also one of the lightest.
Sleeping any longer means you slip into a deeper form of sleep (REM). If you wake up during a deeper form of sleep, you tend to feel sluggish as it isn’t the natural way to wake up.
Waking up whilst only in a light form of sleep pretty much removes the chances of waking up sluggish because your body hasn’t fully committed to a full sleep cycle.
Despite all this, we all require different nap lengths to gain that energy kick, so you need to test things out and see what works for you.
You could also try out this cool interactive nap wheel on Life Hacker which aims yo help you find the perfect nap length.
When Should We Nap?
Once you’ve nailed down the correct length of a nap, you need to work out what time of day would be best to take it.
Clearly, this can entirely depend on your routine, your job or your daily commitments. If you work unsociable hours then the time you might have a nap will differ from the majority of people who work 9-5.
sleep.org suggests that for the majority of us, the perfect time to take a quick nap is between 2-3pm. This is because at this point in the day, you’ll have been awake for a good while and you’ll have eaten, however, following your lunch, your blood sugar levels will have taken a slight dip.
Our body clocks are also quite responsive in allowing us to feel sleepy by this point in the day. If you try to go for a nap any earlier, you might find it difficult as you simply don’t feel tired.
Going for a nap at this time also means it shouldn’t interfere with your actual bedtime. This is because it is early enough in the day to give you that extra boost, but not too close to the evening to keep you awake later than usual.
Obviously, this time won’t work for everyone, your boss might not take too kindly to you resting your eyes for 30 minutes in the middle of a work day, so work around your schedule and find the perfect time if you feel a nap would really make a difference.