If you are like most people, you are probably not getting enough sleep at night. So, what can you do to stop yourself from being a zombie during the day? Take a nap, of course!
Believe it or not, napping can actually have a number of advantages, most of which improve your cognitive function.
You will be more alert, improve your memory, be productive, and amp up your creativity.
As you can see, there is a lot to be gained by laying your head down during the middle of your workday.
Of course, while it sounds easy enough, trying to nap at an unusual time isn’t as simple as you might think.
Which means that if you really want to reap the benefits of your daytime naps, you are going to want to follow the tips mentioned here:
Tip #1: Are You a Lark or an Owl? Figure Out the Best Time to Nap
So, first things first, you are going to determine the right time for you to take a nap.
This will ensure that you get the rest that you need at the right time of the day.
To do this, you are going to need to find out whether you are a lark or an owl.
Here is how to do this: Pick your ideal bedtime – imagine, for a moment, that you could plan your day however that you liked.
Now, if it were completely up to you, what time would you go to sleep each day?
If you would prefer your bedtime to be at around 9 or 10 pm, then you are a lark. Night owls, on the other hand, would rather go to sleep after midnight.
Lark nap time:
If early to bed, early to rise sounds good to you then you should try napping between 1 pm and 2 pm in the afternoon. This is when your nap will have the greatest impact on you.
Owl nap time:
f going to sleep late and waking up late is best for you, then try to nap between 2 to 3 pm, when you will be most likely to crave sleep.
Tip #2: Take a Power Nap for a Quick Boost
Have you ever woken up from a nap feeling absolutely terrible? You probably weren’t even sure what day it was at that point!
Well, this probably happened because your nap went on for a little too long.
See, there are four stages of sleep – this is when you proceed from a light slumber to a deep sleep.
The longer that you are asleep, the more likely it is for you to drift off into the latter stages, making it difficult for you to wake up.
What does this mean for you?
It means that your power nap should be only 20 minutes long – no more, no less.
This way, you will be able to wake up feeling refreshed and alert rather than groggy.
Now, this may not be a good option for everyone, if you need a bit more of a pick-me-up, you are going to need a little bit more shut-eye.
How much longer, you may ask?
Well, we tackle this a little later on so keep reading.
Tip #3: Avoid Late Naps to Sleep Better at Night
When it comes to taking naps, there is a narrow window of opportunity, as we have already discussed above.
As long as you fall asleep during the afternoon and don’t stay asleep for too long, your nighttime slumber will not be affected.
So, the takeaway from this is that you shouldn’t take a nap past 4 pm in the afternoon. Any time later than this and you risk not being able to fall asleep at night.
Tip #4: Take a Longer Nap to Make Up for Lost Sleep
If you have lost an hour or more of precious sleep, you are going to quickly find that 20 minutes just won’t cut it for you.
You are going to need a longer nap if you want to be firing on all cylinders after breaking rest.
Remember the sleep cycle that was mentioned earlier? Well, it’s time to revisit it again.
It takes about 90 minutes for you to go through all of the stages of a sleep cycle. If you were to wake up immediately after, you would feel just as refreshed as a 20-minute nap.
So, to recap if you need a more significant nap, try sleeping for 90 minutes instead. You should avoid sleeping in any longer than this.
Tip #5: Choose the Right Spot for Uninterrupted Sleep
If you are at home, then it is simply a matter of closing the curtains and crawling into your own bed.
If you are at work, though, it can be a little bit more difficult to find the ideal spot.
However, if you want a truly refreshing nap, it is a good idea to find yourself a secluded area, if you don’t have your own office.
This way, you can feel reassured that someone won’t come barging in right as you are dozing off.
Find an empty room where you can dim the lights and get some shut-eye for a few minutes, at least.
Don’t have that luxury?
Put on a sleep mask instead to help you fall asleep a little faster.
Tip #6: Lie Down for a More Luxurious Sleep
Even though you feel as though you are so tired you could fall asleep standing, it probably isn’t true.
This is because, on average, people find it easier to nap while they are lying down rather than sitting up.
So, if you are having trouble drifting off during the day, your position could be at fault.
If you can nap in your own bed, that’s great! If not, try to find a couch where you can lie down for a short while.
For those of you who are really interested in getting as much from their nap as possible, you may want to set up a hammock.
That’s right, research has shown that people who nap in hammocks are much more likely to fall asleep faster and enjoy a deeper, more refreshing sleep.
Tip #7: Create a Quiet Space for a Restful Nap
A noisy environment isn’t ideal for your nap time. Not only can it make it quite difficult for you to fall asleep, it can also force you to wake up suddenly from your nap.
See, people are really sensitive to changes in noise. So, if it were to suddenly get loud in the room that you were sleeping in, this would jerk you awake.
The good news is that you can control how much noise you actually perceive while napping.
Earplugs are often the most effective way to ensure that you will not be disturbed by external sounds.
Some people also find that white noise machines create soothing sounds that lull you to sleep and make it easier for you to stay asleep as well.
Tip #8: Use Scents to Soothe You
When it comes to answering the question of how to take a nap, it helps to know that there are certain scents like lavender that can help you feel soothed and relaxed.
This, in turn, allows you to fall asleep more quickly.
So, a few minutes before it is time to take your nap, use a diffuser or a scented candle to permeate the air with the scent of lavender.
When it finally is nap time, you will be primed to nod off quickly.
Tip #9: Cool Down Your Body to Sleep Faster
Your body goes through a variety of routines as it prepares itself for sleep. One of these things is dropping your core temperature so that you can get to sleep faster.
One of the ways that you can facilitate this process is by ensuring that the room temperature is between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
This will greatly cut down on the possibility of you being restless.
To make sure that the room temperature has the best effect, try lowering the air conditioning in your home or office about an hour or so before you plan on napping.
This will allow your body to get to the temperature that it needs to be at sooner.
Tip #10: Schedule in Your Nap So That You are Prepared for It
Napping, especially at work, can seem like an odd idea to many. This is why you need to mentally prepare for it. The best way to do this is to schedule it into your day.
You can jot it down on your calendar, set a reminder for yourself, or simply place a sticky note on your computer.
Whatever you choose to do, you will be helping to prep your mindset.
So, when it is finally time for your nap, you will not feel as though you are jumping from one extreme state (wakefulness) to another (sleeping).
Tip #11: Sidestep Your Guilt Trip to Enjoy Your Nap
When you are on holiday, taking a nap can give you the best feeling in the world. However, if you are looking to catch
some shut-eye during the work day, it may not feel as good.
In fact, you will probably be feeling guilty, stressed out, and unsure about your decision to nap.
But, guess what?
All of this worrying and tension is just going to make it harder for you to fall asleep.
What you should do instead is remind yourself that you are taking a nap to be alert and become more productive.
So really, you are doing something good for your job.
Tip #12: Nap at the Same Time to Create a Habit
If you want to be able to doze off for a few minutes each day, you will need to start getting your body used to it.
The best way to create a habit is to make sure that you do it at the same time each day.
Now, in the beginning, this routine may not feel as though it is having much effect on you at all.
However, with time, your body will begin to prep itself for this specific nap time. You will then find that it is much easier for you to fall asleep each day.
Tip #13: If You’re Wondering How to Take a Nap, Meditate
Particularly in the beginning, you are going to find it difficult to sleep.
If you have decided on a power nap this could mean that you spend your twenty minutes trying to fall asleep.
Just because you can’t actually doze off, it doesn’t mean that you have to forfeit the benefits of a nap.
Instead, try some relaxation techniques.
Step 1: Lie down, get comfortable, and close your eyes
Step 2: Exhale through your mouth
Step 3: Close your mouth and slowly inhale through your nose while you count to four
Step 4: Hold your breath for 7 counts
Step 5: Exhale through your nose for 8 seconds
Step 6: Repeat the exercise three times
Tip #14: Set Proper Alarms to Prevent Oversleeping
One of the reasons that you may be reluctant to take a nap is because you have a tendency to oversleep. In fact, even an alarm might prove to be not enough to wake you up.
Not to worry, there is a trick that you can use.
Your first step is to set several alarms for yourself. There should be about 2 to 5 minutes between each alarm.
While you may snooze one alarm, there is a good chance that you won’t do it with the rest.
After setting your alarm, make it a point to leave the phone or the clock quite a distance away from where you are napping.
This will force you to have to get up in order to turn it off. This can make it a bit easier for you to snap out of your sleeping fog.
Tip #15: Prevent Fidgeting for a Peaceful Nap
If you want to avoid tossing and turning and prolonging the time until you fall asleep, you should consider getting into the half military crawl position. This makes it difficult for you to move your body around.
So, how do you do it?
Step 1: Lie on your chest. Your head should be on a pillow and facing right.
Step 2: Put your arms by your side with the palms facing upwards.
Step 3: Take your right hand and place only the top part of it under your pillow and head.
Step 4: Move your right knee to the side and bend it so that it forms a 90-degree angle with your body.
Remember that this position is only a good idea if you are trying to take a short nap. Sleeping on your stomach for an entire night is not recommended.
Tip #16: Caffeinate and Catnap to Improve Concentration
Ok, so on the surface caffeine and sleeping may seem like unlikely partners but research has proven that drinking
coffee before your nap can make you feel more alert later on.
How does this work?
Now, as you are probably aware, caffeine takes a bit of time to really kick in.
After all, it has to go from your stomach to your bloodstream. This takes around 20 minutes to happen.
If you have already caught on, you can see the connection here.
By the time that you wake up from your power nap, the caffeine will be already powering you up.
This makes you twice as potent at your task than before!
Now, it can take you a while to become a napping pro, but it is definitely worth the effort once you think of all of the advantages.
The best way to improve your napping game is to start small – maybe just try out two or three tips that have been mentioned here.
Once you find out how useful they are to you, you are sure to give the others a chance as well, so try one of the tips today!
* This article was originally published HERE. It was republished on I AM A ROCKSTAR with the author’s permission.
Joi Bellis is a Masters student working on a degree in clinical and health psychology. Aside from the social sciences, Joi also has a love for cats and yoga. She is passionate about educating and informing people about sleep issues such as insomnia, as well as just improving quality and effectiveness of sleep. She works with her colleagues on her blog: The Sleep District.