Napping IS Good For You! Here’s Why You Should Take Naps Every Day
If there’s one physical activity people commonly say they miss about their childhood, it’s napping. Long gone are the days where we had all the time in the world. Where we had no responsibilities and could take a nap without having to answer to anyone. In fact, our parents often encouraged us to take a little snooze.
As adults, we seemingly never have the time and often think of napping as something akin to a squirrel swimming in water - it just shouldn’t exist.
But you should be napping. Naps have plenty of benefits including assisting with your mental wellbeing and even helping you sleep at night. Now that we’ve convinced you to nap - we should explain that there is a definitive art to it and it’s important to know how to power nap, as getting it wrong can have a counter-beneficial effect.
The timing of your power nap matters
It seems silly us explaining to you how to nap but we promise that there’s a reason for this.
In the previous section, we mentioned that noon is probably the best time to take a nap during the week. After all, it’s one of the few time slots available.
Ideally though, if you want to optimise the benefits of your nap, you should take an afternoon nap between 1 and 3pm. It’s around that time that you might feel sleepy any way. Instead of trying to hide your sleepiness with caffeine, take a nap and sleep it off. Napping anytime after 3pm can start to impact your natural sleep rhythm and we don’t want that.
What really matters though, is how long you nap for.
Naps are only good for you if you nap for the right amount of time - 20-30 minutes is the longest you want to nap for during the middle of the day. The reason is simple. If you nap any longer than that, you’ll enter the second stage of sleep and trying to wake up during this stage is difficult.
Worse yet, you won’t get any of the benefits you’re looking for and you’ll wake up groggy, irritable, and won’t be able to keep focused.
Sleep cycles last approximately 90 minutes so if you’ve got enough time for a 90-minute nap, you can also try that.
How to have a caffeine nap
If you want to be really productive after a nap, you can drink a cup of coffee and then lay down. The quicker you get the cup of coffee down, the better. This way, you ensure the caffeine is all absorbed around the same time.
As for length of time to nap, caffeine takes about 20 minutes for its effects to start showing. As such, drinking a cup of coffee before napping for 20-30 minutes is absolute perfection for productivity, mood, and alertness.
How to nap for a better night’s sleep
It may seem counterintuitive, but taking a nap in the afternoon can stop you from tossing and turning all night.
The trick is to nap in the early afternoon though. Any later and you will have a difficult time going to sleep. The same goes for the length of your nap. The shorter the nap is, the better off you’ll be.
The reason napping helps you sleep later may not seem obvious. Since napping helps with your mental health (especially anxiety), you prepare yourself for sleeping at night.
How naps help your mental health
Part of the reason you have trouble sleeping may simply be because you’re trying to sleep at the wrong time - the wrong time for you.
At night, without lights and other distractions (like a noise machine), it can be difficult to free yourself from your own thoughts. You might find taking a short snooze during the day to be a much easier task.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, then any sleep is good sleep. And a short nap can help with that as well as reducing some of the anxiety that you’re having about falling asleep at night.
The primary issue with sleep and anxiety is that it’s never quite clear which is causing which. That’s to say that your lack of sleep may be causing your anxiety. Or your anxiety may lead to lack of sleep. No matter which is the cause, taking a nap can lead you down the road to happiness.
Tips for great napping
A lot of the tips for napping are the same as the best tips for sleep. The primary difference though, is your inability to control many of the factors.
For instance, you probably will not have a bed for a midday nap.
You may not be able to control the temperature (typically, colder is better than warmer).
However, you can take a nap at the same time every day. If you find a time that starts working to help you get to sleep quickly at night, do your best to keep to that schedule. A half hour either way can adversely affect your night—especially if it’s a half hour later. If you manage to miss your nap time, it’s better to just wait until your normal bed time.
Bring an eye mask with you. Wherever you decide to nap, chances are good that it will be light outside. An eye mask can block out distracting light so you can get to sleep quicker. When you’re on a tight timeframe, this is essential.
If you can’t find a bed or a comfortable area, your car is the next best thing. Just keep these tips in mind:
- You should recline your seat as far as possible. Moving it back as far as it goes can help you stretch your legs.
- Be mindful of the temperature. If it’s hot, roll down your windows or turn the air conditioning on. If it’s cold, bring a blanket with you.
- A pillow is optional. You may find that a pillow helps. You may also find that a pillow is hard on your neck. Find what works for you.
- Remember to sleep between 20-30 minutes or 90. If you find that you wake up groggy at 90 minutes, try moving around the length of sleep by 5 minutes until you figure out what works best for you.
Our CEO and Founder, Richard, shares how he takes an afternoon power nap - or controlled recovery period, to recover from a bad night's sleep in this video.
If you have difficulty sleeping at night or are stressed, a nap may be exactly what you need to lead you down the path to better health. Will you follow our advice next time you feel like napping during the day? Let us know in the comments below.