What’s the best way to grab some extra zzz’s during the day? Here are some tips from the experts:
1. Don’t nap too long, especially if it’s a week day and you’re working. Experts warn that the longer the nap, the more likely you’ll wake up groggy, a feeling that can last up to 30 minutes. So what’s the sweet spot to feel the benefits of a nap? As little as 10 to 20 minutes will leave you refreshed, energetic and mentally sharper. On the weekends when alertness is less important, longer naps are ok, but try to avoid ones that last more than an hour so they don’t interfere with nighttime sleep.
2. Avoid napping too close to your bed time. A late nap could interfere with your ability to fall asleep at night. Researchers aren’t sure what exactly the ideal time of day to nap is, but they say the afternoon – roughly 1 to 4 p.m. – is when our body’s circadian rhythms make us most likely to feel sleepy. (Tell that to the boss!)
3. Napping can be done anywhere where it’s comfortable, be it a parked car, under your desk or a chair. For some, a quiet, dark place may be necessary but for others a subway or airplane seat works just as well. One tip: If you’re trying to stick to a short nap it may help to be partially upright. Studies have found that if you lie supine you’re more apt to fall into a deeper sleep.
4. Napping is a no-no if you suffer from a sleep disorder like insomnia or sleep apnea. It will only make the disorders worse.
5. Catch yourself dreaming during a short power nap? That’s a sign that you’re sleep deprived because you’re quickly slipping into rapid eye movement sleep, which is supposed to be the final stage of the roughly 90-minute sleep cycle. Try getting more sleep at night.
6. Finally, don’t use napping as a substitute for getting a full night’s sleep. In an ideal world where everyone gets adequate sleep at night and wakes up well rested, napping shouldn’t really be needed at all.