Countless adults are short on sleep, and naps are a great way to make up for some of those lost winks – not that you shouldn’t focus on getting better quality sleep at night! Unfortunately, for many of us, napping is no longer as easy as passing out on a mat on the classroom floor between recess and arts and crafts. Follow these expert tips in order to make the most out of your naps, and wake up feeling refreshed and ready, instead of groggy and unsure which galaxy you’re in.
1. Keep Your Naps Under Half an Hour
Generally, the best way to feel well-rested and get some of your energy back is to take a nap that’s between 20 and 30 minutes long. Any longer, and you’ll start to head into sleep cycles that can make you feel extremely groggy if you interrupt them, undoing all of the work of your nap.
2. Take a 90-Minute Nap
On the other hand, if you’re really sleep deprived and have time to commit to a longer nap, set your alarm for an hour and a half. Most people’s sleep cycles restart every 90 minutes or so, meaning that you’ll get the benefits of deeper sleep, but you’ll still wake up fresh, rather than disoriented or wanting to sleep for the rest of the day.
3. Don’t Discount Short Rests
Even if you don’t really have time for a nap, finding a quiet spot to shut your eyes for five or even ten minutes can help you to rejuvenate. You don’t even have to fall entirely asleep during that short period of time – you’ll still feel more alert.
4. Have Some Coffee Before Your Nap
Napping is better than coffee for actually restoring energy, rather than just masking a problem, but caffeine can help some people feel more alert after a nap. If you struggle to wake up once you’ve gotten some shut-eye, try having a cup of coffee before your half-hour nap. The caffeine should take some time to kick in, so you’ll still be able to sleep, but by the time you wake up it will be coursing through your body and telling you to wake up.
5. GIVE YOURSELF A 4PM CUT OFF
The middle of the afternoon is generally the best time for naps, since your body will be in something of a post-lunch lull, or possibly suffering from work-induced exhaustion after concentrating all morning. That said, napping too late can interfere with your sleep, so make sure you finish your nap sometime between 3pm and 4pm.
6. DON’T NAP IF YOU CAN’T NAP
Napping isn’t for everyone. If you find that regardless of length and time of day, napping interferes with your sleep at night or leaves you feeling worse rather than better, don’t push it. Instead, find ways to perk yourself up throughout the day that don’t involve sleeping, like healthy snacks or light exercise.
7. TAKE A STROLL OUTSIDE INSTEAD
If you don’t have time to nap, can’t nap where you work, or find that napping makes you more tired or interferes with your nighttime sleeping, taking a brisk walk outside might help to boost your energy levels. Getting into the sunlight will boost your core temperature and prevent your body from making sleep-inducing melatonin.