Not all naps are created equal. Some naps have been shown to rejuvenate where others boost creativity. What’s more, when you nap can be as important as how you nap. Here’s how to nap like a professional, nap-taking machine. Here’s how to nap like you MEAN IT.
Before we begin, we need to determine if you’re napping for the right reasons. For that, we need to nail down your napping style. There are three basic categories of nap, according to the National Sleep Foundation. They are as follows:
The Planned Nap (aka “The Preparatory Nap”) – It’s Saturday afternoon. You’re going out tonight. The last thing you want is to start dozing off at 8:30, so what do you do? You take a nap. It’s 2:17, and you’re not even that sleepy, really. But a short snooze now means more party-happy fun-time later. This is the planned nap. The responsible nap. The leisurely pursuit of prudent, dedicated partiers everywhere.
The Habitual Nap – A habitual nap is a nap you make time for regularly. Daily, semi-weekly, whatever. The point is that it’s scheduled. It’s a habit. The nap typically lasts for a set amount of time and takes place around the same time of day. Remember pre-school? Remember nap time? Remember how awesome that was? You may not have appreciated it at the time, but I bet you do now. Daily, school-mandated nap time is the last time the vast majority of us practiced habitual napping. Bose SoundLink Color B... Best Price: $75.00 (as of 02:45 EST - Details)
The Emergency Nap – Exactly what it sounds like. Unlike the planned nap, or the habitual nap, which you frequently indulge in even when you’re not feeling particularly sleepy, emergency naps are taken out of bleary-eyed, foggy-headed necessity. They are a hallmark symptom of poor sleep hygiene, and they can strike at any time. (Note: Early-afternoon sleepiness is, for many people, normal, and should not be confused with the beckon of an emergency nap. For more, see WHEN TO NAP, below.)
If you’re an emergency napper, you might want to stop reading. Go read this, instead. There’s a good chance you’ve got bigger issues to deal with. Emergency naps can be bad news, especially if you find yourself resorting to Sleep Mask by Bedtime ... Best Price: null Buy New $11.90 (as of 03:20 EST - Details) them regularly. The fact that emergency naps tend to choose when you take them, instead of the other way around, is a good indication that your body needs more sleep, in general.
If you remember one thing from this guide, let it be that naps are most beneficial when they’re taken with intention. You choose the nap. The nap does not choose you. This is your mantra. When utilized in this way, naps can become a beneficial component of a healthy sleep schedule. Here’s how to make the most of them.
WHEN TO NAP
There’s no such thing as a single perfect time to take a nap. There is, however, a commonly recommended window. For most people, early afternoon is best. Biologically, humans are biphasic sleepers; we pack in most of Take a Nap! Change You... Best Price: $1.73 Buy New $5.50 (as of 06:05 EST - Details) our sleep at night, but most people’s brains experience a dip in alertness somewhere between 1 and 4 p.m.
The timing and duration of this window can vary from person to person, depending on their chronotype. If you regularly wake at 6:00 a.m. and are asleep by 9:00 or 10:00 p.m., odds are your ideal nap time will fall on the earlier side of the window. If you’re a night owl – hitting the hay past midnight and rising at 8:00 a.m, 9:00 a.m., or later – your ideal nap window will probably be shifted more toward mid-afternoon.
A BRIEF ASIDE HERE REGARDING SHIFT WORK: If your job requires you to work odd hours of the day – the graveyard shift, for example – the early-afternoon nap window probably does not apply to you. The fact that your sleep-wake cycle is at odds with the rising and setting of the sun means you may need to nap more strategically. The National Sleep Foundation has some tips to help you nap more effectively.
Dialing in your ideal nap time will take some troubleshooting on your part. A good rule of thumb, when starting out, is to time your siesta for 6–8 hours after waking. You can also trythis napping wheel – designed by University of California’s Sara Mednick, author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life.
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