Ahh naps. There is just something so luxurious and nurturing about napping, and in our opinion, not enough people take advantage of them! Luckily, more and more people are starting to recognize the benefits of napping, and many companies are even building nap rooms for their employees!
In today’s post we’re sharing everything you need to know to get the most out of your naps, from when to nap to how to nap and everything in between.
Benefits of napping
Aside from just feeling amazing, napping has a whole list of mental, emotional, and physical benefits. This includes improved mood, improved brain function and memory retention, increased creativity, increased energy, decreased blood pressure, improved immune function, and so much more.
Who should nap?
Most adults may not need to nap if they’re getting the recommended 7-8 hours of quality sleep per night. However, most of us aren’t getting enough sleep, so it’s safe to say that a lot of us could benefit from napping. Some say we actually are hardwired to nap, so even if you are getting enough sleep, it can still be a benefit. If you’re feeling tired, run down, or unable to focus, napping is probably the way to go.
Shift workers, in particular, should make naps a part of their daily routine. If you don’t find it easy to nap, stick with it- your body will get used to the routine and you’ll find it easier and easier to get some mid-day shut eye.
If you have insomnia or a lot of trouble sleeping at night, it is better to hold off on a nap as it could make falling asleep at night even harder.
Even if you’re not overly tired, you can still take a few minutes to relax and recharge. Giving yourself a few minutes to lie down, get comfy, and take some time to yourself can be deeply therapeutic and help you to carry on with the rest of your day. You’ll be amazed at what just a short time of unplugging and winding down can do for you!
When to nap
It’s no coincidence that many cultures enjoy an after-lunch nap, or siesta. The hours between 1-3 are the perfect time to nap. Your body temperature naturally drops at this point (a natural precursor to falling asleep), which is why many of us feel that afternoon slump. Napping between these hours works with your body’s natural rhythms and typically won’t interfere with your sleep at night.
Sleeping past 4pm may affect your sleep at night, so it’s best to not nap any later than that. If you are a night owl, however, you can push your nap time to 5-6pm.
Keep in mind that these are generalizations- you know your body best, so you may find another time works best for you.
What’s the ideal nap length?
There is some debate here, but it’s generally agreed that the best nap length is between 10 to 30 minutes. When we sleep, we go through different sleep cycles, and in the first 10 to 30 minutes of sleep we are still in the lighter stages. This means we get a nice amount of day time rest without going into the deeper stages of sleep.
Typically, when we wake up from a nap feeling groggy and disoriented, it’s because we woke up during the deeper stages of sleep. When we wake up during this stage, we can actually feel worse that we did before lying down, thanks to something known as sleep inertia.
So, for a quick refresh, keep it to 10 to 30 minutes. If you’re really sleep deprived, 90 to 110 minutes can also be a good option because that it the time it takes to complete a sleep cycle.
Again, everyone is different, so rather than sticking rigidly to the nap rules, keep them in mind but find a length that works best for you.
Another benefit of naps is simply that you’re taking some time for yourself to rest and relax. Our lives are so fast paced these days that we often forget to take any time for ourselves and are more focused on constantly getting stuff done than we are on just spending a few minutes chilling out. In fact, we can often feel really guilty for relaxing, so even if we need a nap, it’s not easy for many of us to take one.
Saying yes to a nap means saying yes to yourself and saying no to our conditioned patterns that say we have to be constantly on the go. So, take that nap and leave the guilt at the door.
Need some more nap time motivation? Check out @thenapministry on Instagram.
How to wind down
Even if we’re really tired, it can be hard to calm our minds enough to actually fall asleep. At night, our bodies are naturally winding down to sleep and we usually have a bed time routine that also helps to signal to our bodies that we’ll be sleeping soon. During the day though, we don’t have these factors working for us and it can be difficult to switch off from the events of the day enough to actually fall asleep.
These tips can help you get there.
- Wear an eye mask. Unless you’re really tired, it’s not easy to fall asleep when it’s light out. Pop on an eye mask to block out the daylight and you’ll have a much easier time sleeping.
- Block out noise. Same deal- it can be difficult to get some peace and quiet during the day, so if you’re napping while other people are going to be around you, use ear plugs or a white noise machine to block out the noise.
- Try a breathing exercise. Breathing exercises can do wonders for calming your mind and body and transitioning you from day mode to nap mode. Here’s one we really like: inhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 4, and hold out for a count of 4. Repeat for a few rounds until you feels yourself relaxing and unwinding.
- Use a guided meditation. For extra help relaxing, listen to a guided meditation designed to help you fall asleep.
- Let go of guilt. As we pointed out before, a lot of us can feel guilty for napping. Reminding yourself that everyone deserves a break can help to alleviate any guilt that may be keeping you from letting yourself fully relax.
Remember, you don’t need to feel guilty about napping! A quick afternoon nap has a ton of benefits, and you never need to feel bad about taking some time for yourself.