Whether you’ve got an hour lunch break and you’re desperate to cram in a 20-minute power nap before the afternoon kicks off or you’re enjoying your day off and fancy an afternoon cat-nap, the art of napping can be a hard one to get right, and an even tougher one to master.
The question is: is napping good for you? Done right, and you get a perfectly restorative nap without all those feelings of grogginess, setting you up to tackle the rest of your day with ease. Do it wrong, however, and you’re in for a tough battle against the symptoms of drowsiness, which will probably negatively affect your mood, performance and energy levels even more. Boo.
What is a nap?
A nap is characterised as any sleep that you take in the middle of the day for a short, brief period. Naps are more than likely taken in the day, especially in the afternoon, to give you an energy burst to make the most of the afternoon or evening ahead.
Health benefits of napping
If you’re having an extremely busy day and you’ve got a ton of work to do, you may think that napping is the complete opposite of what you should be doing. This isn’t necessarily the case though. If you’re struggling to complete your work from lack of concentration and symptoms of fatigue, you would absolutely benefit from a nap.
Aside from the short-term benefit of a quick boost of energy and improved performance, napping actually presents some pretty neat health benefits, too.
Some of our favourite nap benefits include:
- Improves your mood
- Ups your memory capacity
- Increases your level of alertness
- Speeds up your reaction time
- Reduces stress levels
- Helps mental clarity
How long should I nap for?
Whilst this is debated and different times may work for different people, it's been widely agreed through the findings of research studies that the optimum time for a nap is between 10 and 20 minutes.
You may be thinking – that’s so short! How can I get any rest in that short of a period? Well, the proof is all in the science. You can still get those all-important nap benefits from just 20 minutes of sleep!
The recipe for the ideal nap
If you’re looking for some great nap tips, the first thing to remember is that it’s important not to overcomplicate this process. If you’re thinking too much and putting too much pressure on your nap – you’ll find it nearly impossible to get your sleep.
How to nap during the day
We’ve put together some simple steps to set you up for the nap of your life, so prepare yourself for some well-deserved rest and perfect sleep hygiene tips.
1. Nap in a dark room
Many people ask us how to nap during the day, and this is one of the key components to a successful day nap. Whilst this may seem obvious, especially in the lighter, sunnier months, it may be hard to achieve darkness in your house without some seriously heavy-duty curtains. The goal here is to block out as much light as possible – both natural and artificial, to trick your body into thinking that it’s time for bed.
2. Make your room comfortable
From wearing cosy clothes to getting that perfect spot in bed and ensuring your room is at a comfortable temperature, there are a few things you can do to increase the possibility of an effective nap.
Make sure there are no distractions, so put away your phone, shut down your laptop and turn off that TV. If it’s too hot, whack on your fan, and if it’s a particularly chilly day, grab your hot water bottle or a warm blanket. Comfort is key.
3. Keep it short
As we said, the best naps are the shorter ones. This is because remaining asleep for a prolonged amount of time essentially tells your body that it is night time, and it’s time to get a full night’s rest. This is counterproductive, and you will actually end up falling into the deeper stages of sleep, such as Rapid Eye Movement (REM).
As soon as you slip into a REM cycle, you run the risk of sleeping for an hour or more, and if you do wake up, it’s pretty likely you’ll experience those unpleasant and unwanted feelings of overtiredness, which is the complete opposite of what you were hoping to achieve.
4. Avoid caffeine
If you’re hoping to sneak in a quick midday nap, try and avoid caffeine and sugar sources throughout the morning. These up your energy levels for a short period of time, but aren’t as effective as getting good, natural rest. It’s important to prioritise these natural strategies as the consumption of these products may mess with your ability to fall asleep!
5. Set an alarm
This one is pretty important. Not only will this ensure that you don’t cross over into that deep REM sleep, but setting an alarm will make sure that you don’t oversleep and accidentally miss that important meeting with your boss you had scheduled after lunch.
Here at Innermost, we’re big believers in staying healthy so that you can keep on top of your game and maximise your performance.
So, is napping good for you? Absolutely. Getting a good night sleep and adequate rest is one of the core building blocks to ensure this is happening, so anything we can do to help you get there is a priority. If you’re struggling to switch off, relax, and get that all-important rest, check out The Relax Capsules. Formulated with natural calming ingredients such as Ashwagandha, Valerian Root and Lion Mane’s Mushroom, this nootropic is designed to reduce stress and promote relaxation so you can chill out in the face of life’s stressful day-to-day happenings.
- Duffy, J. F., Abbott, S. M., Burgess, H. J., Crowley, S. J., Emens, J. S., Epstein, L. J., ... & Klerman, E. B. (2021). Workshop report. Circadian rhythm sleep–wake disorders: gaps and opportunities. Sleep, 44(5). Click here.
- Siegel, J. M. (2005). REM Sleep. Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine, 4, 120-135. Click here.