Advice on Napping Wisely and Not Throwing Off Your Sleep Schedule
Napping is a great way to recharge and refresh your body, but the results can be disastrous if you don't do it right. Not to disrupt your sleep pattern or make you feel drowsy on the way home, naps are meant to help you fall asleep at night. Here's some advice on how to nap wisely and ensure that taking a rest doesn't ruin your day.
Understanding the benefits of napping and when they're most useful is essential. The best use of naps is to catch up on lost sleep, not to maintain a regular sleep schedule. If you don't sleep and wake up at the same time daily, naps could mess up your circadian rhythm, which controls your body's internal clock.
Taking a nap can help you regain energy if you have difficulties sleeping or staying asleep at night. Take advantage of this power nap whenever possible!
Napping for too long is not ideal, as it can throw off your sleep cycle (and may cause you to fall asleep at night). Ideally, naps should be 20 minutes to 30 minutes in length and taken after lunch or in the early evening. If you have difficulties sleeping at night, consider getting more sleep before 11 p.m.
You want to be in a dark room. A cool room. A quiet room. Or even a comfortable place, like in your home or at a coffee shop with free Wi-Fi, where you can take your laptop and get some work done while you relax for 20 minutes (or longer).
When it comes to napping wisely and not throwing off your sleep schedule: make sure the place where you're sleeping is safe and comfortable. For example, if there's an open window nearby with a ladder going up outside of it—and if that ladder could potentially be used by someone who wants to climb into your bedroom—then maybe don’t fall asleep there!
When you wake up, it's good to make sure you don't do any of the following:
Don't wake up too quickly. If you've been napping for an hour or more, don't jump out of bed. Instead, slowly sit up and let your body start to wake itself up before getting out of bed.
Don't wake up in a cold room. Yes, this is obvious but if it's winter or summer (or somewhere in between), stay away from cool air when you first get up! If there are significant temperature changes, it will take longer for your body temperature to adjust. It will also be more challenging for your brain and body systems to work right when they aren't getting enough oxygen because you are so cold.
Don't wake up in a bright room. Turn off all the lights before lying on your side to nap during the day if you can. If you can't, dim the lights until after daybreak, so they don't wake you from REM slumber (which happens once every 90 minutes).
Don't use an alarm clock to wake up from naps during the day. Even though watches are everywhere these days, your circadian rhythm still doesn't know how long ago the sunset was the night before.
Napping is a central part of our lives. We've all had the experience of needing a quick power nap after a long day or even just an opportunity to rest before bedtime. But don't be fooled: naps can be helpful, but if you don't do them right, they can disrupt your sleep schedule.
Recent research shows that naps increase cognition and memory. Short sleep times help the brain digest information more efficiently than protracted waking periods. Naps are good if done correctly; otherwise, they can harm your health and performance.
Naps are a great way to stay healthy and alert during the day. But it’s important not to overdo it. If you are struggling with sleep problems, don't let napping encourage you to keep waking up at night or staying awake during the day. Instead, seek medical attention so your doctor can prescribe therapies that are right for your specific needs.