Do you find it impossible to make it through the day without at least a short nap? Do you think there might be something “wrong” with you because of this? Do you ever feel guilty or lazy or question your diet or health because you need naps so badly?
As it turns out, naps aren’t just for babies, and “growing out of” them isn’t necessarily natural at all. In fact, many, many elderly human beings take several naps throughout the day—and some of these individuals are among the most active and healthy individuals around. But this doesn’t just mean that naps are merely for very young or very old people. The energy level of human beings naturally falls in the early afternoon, and The National Sleep Foundation actually recommends a 20 to 30 minute nap so that individuals can restore overall alertness and production. More specifically, the foundation identifies three specific types of napping below.
#1: Planned napping.
Napping every day whether you feel tired or not.
#2: Emergency napping.
Napping when you suddenly feel exhausted and can barely remain awake.
#3: Habitual napping.
Napping at about the same time every day whether you feel tried or not.
Studies have indicated that human beings must keep their circadian rhythms (or their internal body clock) stable in order to maximize the benefits of napping, so it’s best to nap around the same time every day. If you can manage to do this, your hormone levels, body temperature, metabolism, and immune system should all remain regulated, and it should also be easier to sleep well throughout the night. As mentioned, energy level tends to drop in the early afternoon, so it’s best to take naps between 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. Please read the list below in order to ensure you’re receiving as many benefits as you can each and every time you take a nap.
#1: Set an alarm to make sure you don’t nap too long.
#2: Make your environment as quiet as possible so you don’t wake-up too soon.
#3: Make your environment as dark as possible.
#4: Make sure you’re lying or sitting as comfortably as possible.
#5: Use a light blanket since your body loses temperature while you’re asleep.
#6: Don’t sleep for over 30 minutes.
#7: Drink honey and lemon water before and after.
#8: Make sure you’ve scheduled enough time after your nap to become fully alert before returning to your work or other tasks.
Moreover, if you wake-up at about the same time every day and go outside every morning, then your circadian rhythm stands an even better chance of maintaining balance. If you’re not a current napper but would like to give it a try, don’t be discouraged if you feel groggy afterward at first; it takes about 30 days to reset your internal clock, but after this time has passed you should be able to utilize all of the benefits that even the most seasoned nappers currently do. As per James K. Walsh, Ph.D. (researcher at the Sleep Medicine and Research Center), drinking coffee while working also helps to reduce sleepiness throughout the day—although this is one tidbit of information that probably won’t be news to anyone.
What’s more, NASA research on military pilots and astronauts found that that a 40-minute nap in the daytime enhanced performance by 34%, and alertness by 100%. Other research indicates that lack of sleep can result in greater emotional sensitivities or blockages, skewed judgement, impaired speech, and poor performance or functioning. Taking naps can alleviate all of these symptoms, so you should never feel as though taking a nap is wasting time; if anything, napping saves time because it improves humans’ efficiency and effectiveness so much.
With all of that being said, there are some individuals who operate fine without needing naps, some research has indicated that 10-minute naps are optimal, and other research has shown that longer than 30-minute naps are best. However, this just shows that there are many theories out there, and that you should definitely do some of your own research in order to determine which (if any) napping-style is most perfect for you as an individual. Most people don’t require reasons or excuses to nap, but if you’re one of the unlucky few who does—now you’ve got plenty!
*Inspired by here.