Now that we’re spending lots of time at home, the temptation to take a nap was always there. But your naps don’t have to be unproductive and can actually go a long way to improving your day and productivity. Here’s how:
Speaking to Popular Science, Rafael Pelayo, a professor at the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine, says a nap can go a long way towards improving productivity.
“Nothing replaces sleep other than sleep,” he says. “A nap should feel refreshing.”
So let’s take a look at some considerations that you need to make before taking your next nap.
Find a familiar place
As we should all know by now, your bed is the best place to sleep and sleeping in an unfamiliar place triggers some of our human instincts that we developed during the stage of human existence where sleeping in a foreign place meant you needed to be half-alert and half-asleep to be able to react to dangerous situations.
“That means if you nap on the sofa, you might associate it with rest and doze off when you don’t actually want to do so,” says Deirdre Conroy, who leads the behavioural sleep medicine clinic at the University of Michigan.
This has got a lot more to do with temperature, sounds and lighting than the softness of your mattress, believe it or not. You should be keeping your room dark, cool and get rid of any background noise.
Light interferes with the natural production of melatonin—a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle, so wear a mask or draw the curtains. our bodies naturally slow down when we cool off, which is the same reason people often fall asleep before they freeze to death, Pelayo says, and therefore, lowering the temperature helps us to sleep. It doesn’t matter how quiet or loud your space is, but whether or not you’re used to the sounds around you, which reinforces the need to be sleeping in your own bed, where everything’s familiar.
Keep them short and sweet
“A power nap can be restoring,” Conroy explains. “But if you get into that deep stage of sleep, you might interfere with the quality of sleep you’ll get that night, and you might wake up feeling worse.”
She recommends napping no longer than 40 minutes and aiming for the ideal bracket of 20-30 minutes, because taking an extended nap can lead to a phenomena known as sleep drunkenness – where you go into deep sleep and disrupt it by waking up.
Aim for a lunchtime nap
Timing your naps generally depend on your schedule, but if you’re working a regular 9 to 5 day, the best time is around lunchtime when there’s a slight dip in our circadian rhythm. “If you’re a napper, catch that wave … It can be restorative,” says Conroy.
It is also at this time where our core body temperatures tend to drop, while if we eat beforehand, our bodies will feel safe to doze off.
So there’s no need to feel too guilty about your afternoon nap. In fact, making a good habit out of it could actually be healthy for you. But you have to make sure that you do it right and not make the fatal mistakes that can turn you from feeling a little lazy to being a slob.
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