The elusive nap goes by many names. Siesta, afternoon doze, a few short winks; whatever you like to call them, I think we can all agree that naps are awesome. But our modern lifestyles, brimming with excess stress, leave little room for taking a break mid-day. I would argue most people now see napping as a childish practice, something they’ve outgrown.
No doubt some of you, after reading that last statement, are resisting the urge to cry out “Not true! Naps are the best thing ever!”. I hear you. I love a good nap when I can squeeze one into my day. Unfortunately, they normally have to wait for the weekend, as my weekly schedule doesn’t allow for them.
But in this day of rampant sleep deprivation, should we consider changing our way of thinking? Is it time we start to prioritize the humble nap?
Our body’s natural sleep cycle
Do you ever get that sleepy feeling around mid-afternoon? You’d like nothing better than to lay your head down at your desk and take a quick snooze. You ignore it of course. You had a big lunch, that’s all. Besides, you’re at work.
But it has less to do with our eating habits, and more to do with our natural rhythms. Turns out that our bodies are designed to feel overwhelmingly tired twice per day; once in the early hours of the morning, and again in the early afternoon.
So don’t blame the fatigue on that jumbo burrito, delicious as it was. That groggy feeling is your body’s natural way of telling you it might be time to take a break. The question now is, do you listen to it?
Benefits of napping
To make the most of a nap, you need to sleep for the correct amount of time. Multiple conducted studies conclude it is possible to wake up from a nap refreshed with a new sense of vitality, but you can also wake up groggy and worse off than before. It’s all in the timing.
How to nap the right way
Napping should be simple, right? Well, there are a few rules to follow if you want to reap the most benefits.
How long should a nap be?
Something I’ve always wondered is how long you should nap. Is there some magic number? Sort of. According to sleep.org, the amount of time you nap depends on the benefits you’re looking for.
If you sleep for about 10 to 20 minutes – what many people call a power nap – you’ll boost your energy levels and alertness. This is a great quick fix, especially if you’re at work and need a mental boost.
If you’re looking more for memory retention, then you should aim for a 90-minute nap. 90 minutes is the length of one full sleep cycle, so your body will go through all five stages of sleep.
What you’re looking to avoid is sleeping for a duration that will leave you feeling groggy and out-of-it when you wake up. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should aim for a shorter nap length of no more than 20 minutes to avoid sleep inertia, that groggy feeling you get upon waking. A 90-minute nap should also help you avoid these symptoms, as you will wake in your lightest sleep stage, rather than being roused from deep sleep.
When should you nap?
Because our bodies’ natural rhythm causes us to feel sleepy twice per day, you’re already equipped with your own built-in nap schedule. So when 2 o’clock rolls around and you can’t suppress that yawn any longer, follow your instincts! Take a quick nap and get back to work feeling energized and refreshed.
If you can’t adhere to your body clock, make sure you don’t succumb to a nap too close to your regular bedtime. This may make it harder to fall asleep at night, and you’ll wake up more tired than you were the day before.
Where should you nap?
Choosing a good spot to nap can be tricky with our modern 9 to 5 lifestyle. You want to find a spot that’s dark and quiet, whereas most offices are fluorescent-bright and noisy. Don’t let that stop you! Does your office have a break room with a couch? A copy room that rarely sees use in the afternoon? You might have to get creative, and maybe invest in some ear plugs and a sleep mask. As long as your boss is on board, there’s no excuse for skipping a quick snooze while on the clock.
If you are lucky enough to be at home when afternoon fatigue hits, so much the better! Choose a spot in your house where you won’t be disturbed – a comfortable couch, cozy chair, your bed, etc. – draw the curtains, set an alarm, and get to sleeping. Just don’t let yourself hit the snooze button. It’s much more tempting when you don’t have the added pressures of the office drawing you out of your literal day dreams.
Time to get comfortable!
Make napping on-the-go more enjoyable with our wide selection of travel pillows from 45th Street Bedding. Compact and comfortable, they’re easily transportable and are sure to give your nap that extra bit of luxury, whether you’re on a commuter rail or at your desk.
We have multiple options to choose from: shredded latex, solid latex, washable wool, and our newest addition! The Mélange Profile travel pillow is filled with both shredded latex and super soft kapok from the kapok tree. It’s basically the equivalent of laying your head on the fluffiest of clouds.
And there you have it! Everything you need to know about naps…well, enough to get you started on your napping journey at least!