Picture this: it’s a Saturday afternoon, you’ve just finished eating lunch and you’ve gone back to bed for a solo Netflix and chill session. You know what’s coming after that? A nap. Is there anything better than taking a nap in the middle of the afternoon? I don’t think so.
Napping doesn’t have the best PR though since it’s usually associated with laziness. However, napping does have many benefits If done properly and for the right reasons. It can aid memory, help regulate emotions and improve our overall mood, improve reaction times, and, of course, reduce tiredness.
If you are someone that simply cannot get enough hours of sleep due to being busy or suffering from insomnia, having a nap can help. The idea that people should sleep in one solid block is a myth, according to research.
If you have four hours here and four hours elsewhere in the day that will still be beneficial.
However, getting a nap right isn’t always easy, and sneaking in sleep during the day can have its drawbacks if you’re not careful.
You might experience nighttime sleep problems if you aren’t napping properly. You could also fall foul to sleep inertia, that feeling of grogginess and disorientation after waking up from a nap.
Short naps generally don’t affect nighttime sleep quality for the majority of people. But if you are someone who struggles with insomnia or poor sleep quality at night, long naps might exacerbate these problems.
Dr. Lindsay Browning and luxury bed retailer And So To Bed share their top tips on how to take the perfect nap.
1. Decide the length of your nap before nodding off
The length of time you decide to nap plays an important role in how you feel post-nap. To make sure you don’t wake up groggy after a nap either stick to a short 20-minute nap or a longer nap of at least 1 hour and 30 minutes.
The body has sleep cycles of one and a half hours meaning that if you wake up in the middle of this cycle during the deep sleep phase you will feel worse than you did before the nap.
2. Take naps in the early afternoon
Deciding when to take your nap is crucial. Napping late in the afternoon can mess with your nighttime sleep. If your normal bedtime is around 11 pm then you shouldn’t be napping any later than 2 pm. Napping past this time can throw your bedtime routine off and you may struggle to fall asleep.
3. Create a restful environment
Try to create the right environment for your nap is important. You should try and nap in a quiet, dark place with a comfortable room temperature and few distractions. You may find using an eye mask helps if you are napping in daylight.
Although a study found 29% of Brits admitted to taking a nap while working from home, you should try to avoid taking naps at your desk or on the sofa. Ideally, you should be taking naps in your bed because your body is already used to sleeping there, which can aid dropping off.
4. Avoid unintentional naps
This is very hard to resist when you’re doing a Netflix and chill session. But, unintentional napping whilst on the sofa can really reduce your sleep drive and make you less likely to sleep at night because you already had sleep close to your bedtime.
Falling asleep in front of the TV can also interfere with your sleep due to the light from electrical devices. The blue light emitted by electronic devices, such as smartphones, televisions, handheld consoles and laptops, imitate daylight, this therefore can suppress melatonin production- our sleep-promoting hormone.
5. Give yourself time after a nap
After napping, you might feel a little disoriented, make sure you give yourself some time to wake up before resuming activities, particularly those that require a quick or sharp response such as driving.