A Full Guide to Napping

We’ve written time and time again about the value of napping (here, for instance).  Naps were once considered something that small children and lazy people did, but scientists are discovering more and more that there are huge benefits to taking a short siesta in the afternoon.  Those benefits include improved work performance, quicker reaction time, better memory, less confusion, and fewer accidents and mistakes.

We recently found a great guide to napping, published on the health and wellness blog, Art of Wellbeing.  It provides a very list of the benefits of napping, as well as some really great tips on how to nap better.  Below are a few excerpts, but there is much more information in the original article.  Click the link to read the rest.

Know the best time to nap

According to science, the best time to nap is between 1pm and 3pm, which is one of the two sleepy periods mentioned above that are programmed into our bodies.

Your ideal nap time in this window varies from person to person, particularly whether you’re an early bird or a night owl. If your preference is to wake up early, say 6am, and go to sleep before 10pm, then you’ll want to nap around 1pm. However, if you go to bed at midnight or beyond and wake up at 8am or later, then your nap time should be around 3pm.

Many shift workers are unable to nap between 1pm and 3pm. If you do shift work then a good rule of thumb is to take your nap at around 6 to 8 hours after waking.

Create the right conditions

Think that you’re unable to nap during the day, that you simply can’t fall asleep? Well, you’re probably going about it the wrong way.

To create an environment conducive to sleep, ensure minimal light and noise, and a comfortable temperature.

Lighting is particularly important, because light inhibits melatonin, an important hormone in regulating sleep (and therefore falling asleep). Make the room darker by using window shades, or use an eye mask. If you’re game, consider the Swiss army knife of masks.

As the ideal nap length is 30 minutes or less, you don’t want to lark about trying to fall asleep. Sounds obvious, but lie down straight away. Research suggests that it takes people 50% longer to fall asleep when they’re seated.

Caffeinate your nap

Although naps are proven to be more effective than having a cup of coffee in boosting short-term performance, why not benefit from both? Coffee and napping may seem unlikely bedfellows (if you’ll excuse the pun), but science says they can combine extremely well.

The trick is to drink a cup of coffee just before you nap. Caffeine requires 20 or 30 minutes to take effect, and therefore if you limit your nap to this time period, it will kick in just as you’re waking. Not only will you feel better for having the nap, you get the bonus of a caffeine shot when you wake.

A ‘caffeine nap’, as it’s commonly dubbed (I personally prefer ‘napspresso’), has been shown to leave individuals feeling more refreshed than having either a coffee or nap alone, and much more effective than cold air or a break with no nap.

Source: Art of Wellbeing