According to many researchers, napping has its place among the healthy daily habits that revitalize our body and mind. Studies have shown that napping can improve our mood, cognitive functions, short-term memory, and psychomotor performance. However, sleep experts at the mattress store in San Diego have found that many people do not take naps or do not nap properly (and, yes, there is a proper way to nap). Naps that are too long have the potential to disturb someone’s sleep cycle, making it difficult for them to get a good night’s sleep when it is actually time for bed. Naps that are too short can have the effect of making someone very tired and groggy for the rest of the day.
So, how does one find the perfect napping medium? Sleep experts at the mattress store share their knowledge about napping so that you can discover what works for you.
How long is the perfect nap?
For many people, the perfect nap is achieved when they feel refreshed and energized after waking up. Some people have experienced this with a 10-minute nap while others have experienced this with a 40-minute nap. So, which one is better? In many cases, it depends on personal preference and how much downtime you can actually take in your day. However, there are notable patterns to certain time frames that can determine whether your nap will deliver positive or negative results. Sleep experts at the San Diego mattress store explain the differences in these napping time frames.
Napping for 10-20 minutes: Typically, a 10-20 minute nap is known as a power nap. This is a great way to regain some energy in a short period of time. Within this frame of time, you are safe from your deeper stages of sleep and, thus, you will not feel that sense of grogginess that longer naps sometimes produce. These kinds of naps are great during the work-week if you want to catch up on some rest and only have part of your lunch break to spare.
Napping for 30 minutes: For many people, 30 minute long naps can cause a greater sense of fatigue and disorientation after waking up. This is due to the fact that your sleep cycle is starting to reach much deeper stages and you can disrupt this natural flow when you wake up in the middle of it.
Napping for 30-60 minutes: Once your nap has crossed the threshold of deeper sleep, it is best to ride it out. Naps that fall somewhere between a half-hour and an hour are known as short-term. There are a variety of benefits to taking these kinds of naps, including improved memory. The information that your brain has gathered throughout the day (facts, names, faces, places) will be solidified during this short-term sleep. In fact, one study on the effects of a 40-minute nap showed that individuals who napped were better able to recall things than those who did not nap. However, people may still feel slight tiredness after waking up from these kinds of naps, despite the overall increase in memory.
Napping for 90 minutes: A 90-minute nap is known to most sleep experts as a REM (rapid eye movement) nap. This time frame allows you to complete a full sleep cycle and, thus, allows you to dream. Some of the benefits of this kind of napping include improved creativity as well as enhanced emotional and procedural memory. These kinds of naps are great to have on the weekends when you need to catch up on the sleep you lost during the week.
Why is napping so great?
There are a variety of benefits to taking a nap when you are feeling extra tired in the day. Here are some of them:
- You can improve your energy, mood, and productivity for those days when you can’t avoid the midday slump.
- You can improve your memory and focus, which allows you to retain new information.
- You can lower your blood pressure.
- You can alleviate anxiety, stress, and irritability from the day.
Most people can benefit from a short rest as long as they can learn what length of time works for them. Sleep experts have found that napping between 1 and 4 in the afternoon is the best time to reap the benefits. Any later than 4 can cause sleep cycle disturbances in the nighttime. So, be sure to keep your own sleep routine in mind and try to schedule your naps when they will be the least disruptive to your actual sleeping time. Here are some more tips for planning the perfect nap:
- The best way to manage your napping time frame is to have an alarm. This will ensure that you don’t go over your allotted time and end up ruining your nighttime rest. Try to pick an alarm that is not too jolting. Something that starts low and gradually increases will help you drift back to being awake.
- If you are planning on taking a power nap, you may consider having a caffeinated beverage before laying down. The caffeine should start to affect your body about 10-15 minutes later, which will be right when you want to wake up.
- When you are planning for a short rest, it may be helpful to meditate before your nap. This can help alleviate any stress or anxiety you may be experiencing during the day and allow you to rest more thoroughly for the time you have available.
- Lastly, you should pay attention to your environment when you are settling in for a nap. Pick a place that’s fairly dark, quiet, and comfortable. If you are not able to control your environment, consider having some earplugs and a sleeping mask on hand to recreate those relaxing conditions.