Feeling Guilty About Your Afternoon Nap? Science Says It's Good For You
Do you frequently take a mid-afternoon nap? Are you wondering if naps are good for you?
Perhaps you sneak one in on your lunch break or you find yourself snoozing on the couch. You find it helps but worry that it might not actually be the best for you. You may even be reluctant to take daytime naps in fear of not sleeping that evening.
Well, we’ve got good news for you nappers… the science is in: Naps ain’t all that bad!
The Benefits of Napping
We’re here to answer the question, is napping good for you? So hold on to your pillows and weighted blankets, nappers… here we go!
1. Napping might keep you from getting sick
One study showed that napping can greatly improve your immune system. Both study groups were significantly restricted by their sleep times. Yet, only one group was allowed to nap. It was found that the napping group was better able to recover from a lack of sleep and also had their immune system and cells respond normally. The other group did not.
This is one of the top reasons why napping is good for you because it translates directly into your productivity throughout the day. This means your work performance and ability to be present is that much better. Take that nap!
3. Naps can help you acquire new skills
Those who nap have better retention and memory than those who don’t. So if you’re learning something new, you’ll be more likely to retain and remember it with a quick nap.
Physically, you’ll perform better. A study showed that sprinters’ times improved after a nap. Pretty cool, eh?
Nap Tips: How to Have the Best Sleep Possible
Now we’re all ready to nap it out, how can we make the most of it?
1. Quit the Guilt Trip
First off, don’t feel guilty about it. Your sleep cycle at night isn’t likely to suffer from a small and rejuvenating nap. Yet, let’s take a closer look. There’s always the chance that you could overdo it and there are many ways to maximize and optimize your afternoon nap.
So, keep reading. We’ve got all the napping tips you need.
2. Aim For Short Nap
Wondering how long you should nap? Remember, you don’t want to mess up your sleep cycle at night and a long nap might do just that. So, keep those naps short.
The Sleep Foundation recommends keeping your afternoon snooze to about 20-30 minutes. They say it won’t leave you feeling too groggy and out of it, so it will be just enough that your alertness and performance will improve.
In fact, studies show that 20-30 minutes is the optimal nap. Set an alarm or a timer to make sure you don’t overdo it. Set yourself up for success as soon as you lie down.
3. Plan Your Nap In Accordance With Your Sleep Schedule
Huh? Alright, so say you go to bed around 9 or 10 at night, then you get up around 5 or 6 in the morning. You should time your nap appropriately. So, if this is your sleep schedule, napping around 1 pm is best. This nap wheel is also a great resource for figuring out when you should nap based on your sleep cycle.
Too late of a nap might leave you having trouble sleeping at night. Too early of a nap might not give you the rest you need to feel better.
As far as sleep facts go, your sleep environment still matters - even if it’s just for a nap. Like sleeping at night, you’ll want a cool and dark place to rest. You’ll also want to limit noises if you can… Consider finding a quiet spot or plugging in some headphones. Yet, make sure these headphones will still allow you to hear your nap alarm go off!
4. Find a Place That Makes it Easy
If you’re at work, consider leaving a sleep mask around so that you can catch those zzzs during your lunch break or afternoon break. It’ll help - trust us!
5. Try a Shot of Espresso or Coffee BEFORE Your Nap
This one may sound counterproductive, but hear us out.
Coffee takes about 20 minutes or so to increase your alertness. Thus, having a quick cup of joe before your nap can help waking up from it that much easier. Try it. Do it. Make that least-favorite-part-of-waking-up so much better! Trust us, it really helps.
6. Tune Into a Sleep Meditation
Do you find yourself oh-so-tired but unable to take a nap in the mid-afternoon? Try a sleep meditation! Find ways to wind down for a good and solid rest.
Insight Timer and Headspace apps both offer options for sleep meditation. It could get you on the right vibe and in the right mood for a peaceful and easy nap. At the very least, it will give you a break from the chaos around you. Meditation allows you to just be - minus any craziness or crazy crunch time that might be happening in your work office.
Related Article: 5 Wind-Down Techniques for a Good Night’s Sleep
Nap For a Better Life!
Because why not? Who doesn’t want that? I think we can all agree on one sentiment: we all need a little more downtime. Plus, napping is one of the best sleep hacks out there, especially to get you through all that holiday chaos. Shopping, decorating, cooking, socializing… it’s exhausting.
Take a break from the chaos. Set an alarm and snuggle up, it’s nap time! Naps might be just what you need to be a better and healthier you! Try it out.
Having trouble sleeping? Try these late-night snacks to help you sleep better.