The Perfect Formula for Napping
Finally! It has now been scientifically proven that afternoon naps are beneficial for us. This is because insufficient rest can leave us feeling run down, stressed and overworked. In fact, if you’re continually not getting enough sleep then these stressful feelings can lead to more serious health implications such as depression and even heart disease.
Why is it then, that getting a little bit of shut-eye during daylight hours is somehow frowned on? As long as you get your recommended 7 or 8 hours sleep you should be fine to get through the day, right? In truth, this block sleeping pattern is a relatively new invention and until the industrial ages, most people routinely supplemented their sleep with an afternoon nap.
There are also no hard and fast rules to napping which makes it increasingly frustrating to justify. It’s a sort of black magic, an art almost that if done well can leave you feeling refreshed and revitalised but if done poorly can lead to grogginess and lack of sleep overnight.
So how do you have a really great nap? Follow these tips and before long you’ll be your way to achieving snooze perfection. Try to compare this to your previous sleeping habits and hopefully you should see a noticeable difference in the feelings of being refreshed, revitalised and full of energy.
Food and drink
Have you ever tried to sleep on an empty stomach? It’s almost impossible! Similarly, have you ever tried to stay awake after eating a large meal? Make sure that you have eaten something substantial to make getting to sleep that bit easier. The purpose of a nap is to be re-energised and if you’re spending lots of time getting to sleep in the first place then it’s a fruitless task.
Also, it may sound ridiculous but for some people drinking a cup of coffee before heading off for a short nap works. This is because it takes roughly twenty minutes for caffeine to enter the blood stream and eventually your brain.
In addition caffeine makes you feel more energetic by displacing a chemical called adenosine which produces a feeling of tiredness. Sleep also naturally clears the feeling of tiredness that adenosine produces. So, after a twenty minute nap your sleep will naturally amplify the effect of the caffeine, ensuring you feel refreshed. You’re also less likely to want to stay in bed after the twenty minutes!
Don’t set an alarm
To get the most natural nap it is important not to have any prompts to wake you up; simply let your body be the guide. This will be far healthier in the long run and your body will naturally adjust to how much sleep you actually need. A healthy napping time is usually somewhere between twenty and sixty minutes.
The danger of being woken by loud alarms is that it can act as an unnatural injection of nerve-racking adrenaline and releases cortisol hormones throughout the body. Therefore everything you’ve been trying so desperately hard to get rid of during your nap can come rushing back; all because of an alarm!
It has been suggested that we should try and nap roughly seven hours after having first woken up in the morning. This often works out at about 2pm. Some researchers even think that an afternoon nap is a natural part of evolution. One of these researchers, William Dement former director of Stanford sleep centre, says; “it seems nature definitely intended that adults should nap in the middle of the day.”
However, irrespective of specific biological factors, having a nap at this time in the afternoon is the perfect time for a snooze. Also, it’s not too close to bedtime and so won’t interfere with your primary sleeping pattern.
Try not to exercise (before or after napping)
It is important to exercise and we would always encourage as much as you are able to do. We’d recommend that it’s not before or directly after you’re planning on having a good nap though. The trouble with exercising directly before napping is that your body will still be in exercise mode. You’ll find it far more difficult to sleep! However, waiting just an hour after you’ve exercised is perfect as your body will be naturally tired from the exercise.
Similarly, exercise straight after a nap can leave you feeling more lethargy when performing physical activities. Waiting for a couple hours after the nap should give you a degree of rejuvenation and exercising at this time will be more beneficial.
There are a whole host of benefits that come with napping and you should rarely feel guilty for having an afternoon nap. It’s been proven that effective napping can increase alertness, improves memory, boosts creativity and is ultimately pleasant and enjoyable. Hopefully, with the tips above you can now rest easy when it comes to napping.