5 Rules of Taking a Nap

Man taking a nap with his dog

It’s mid-afternoon, you’ve been worn ragged with the kids or the job since early this morning and that sofa mattress is calling your name. Or you have been driving for quite some time and feel that you need to rest a little. What are you waiting for? Take the plunge and have a good, satisfying nap.

However, there are some rules about nap-taking and if you follow them it will make napping maximally beneficial. Here are some of them:

1. Ideally, a nap should last between 20 and 45 minutes. It certainly should not last more than an hour and a half. If it lasts longer than that, you can experience what’s called sleep inertia, which means you wake up groggy and unrested. This is because you’ll wake up at the wrong point in your sleep cycle. Though sleep inertia lasts for only a few minutes, it’s unpleasant enough to put a person off naps for a while.

2. No mattre if you’re taking the nap at home or in your truck, make sure you nap on a good, comfortable replacement mattress and that there are as few distractions as possible. If your place to nap is in an area where noise is unavoidable, you might want to invest in a white noise machine that blocks those other sounds out. For some people, earplugs or the noise of a fan is enough.Other distractions include light, so pull down the shades. If that’s not possible, put on a pair of eyeshades. The temperature of the room should also be comfortable, and some experts recommend that the air temperature be on the cool side.

3. Don’t take a nap too late in the day. This can interfere with your normal bedtime. Conversely, if you take a nap too early your body might not want to go to sleep. Sleep experts claim that early to mid-afternoon is just the thing. It banishes the deterioration in mental alertness that takes hold as the day wears on. In this way, a nap is rather like a reset button.

4. Make sure you actually sleep. Resting in bed is pleasurable, but it doesn’t give you the benefits of increased alertness, creativity and feeling of refreshment you get from a nap. Also, naps are better if you’re lying down. You’ll get some benefit if you sleep at your desk, but lying down is ideal.

5. Drink some coffee just before the nap. This seems counterintuitive, but if you plan a 20 minute nap, the caffeine will just be starting to work when you wake up. This makes you even more alert than you would have been without the java.

By the way, if your boss is leery about employees taking naps, just tell him or her you’ll be a better worker for it. Naps increase productivity, too!