While napping may seem like slacking, napping done right is actually good for both your brain and work performance. It leaves you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, especially if it’s done methodically on a regular nap-time schedule.
Daytime naps can be one way to treat sleep deprivation, said Sara C. Mednick, Ph.D., sleep expert and author of “Take a Nap! Change Your Life.”
“You can get incredible benefits from 15 to 20 minutes of napping,” she wrote on WebMd. “You reset the system and get a burst of alertness and increased motor performance. That’s what most people really need to stave off sleepiness and get an energy boost.”
Check out these tips for napping success.
1. Keep it Short
Napping for too long can leave you feeling groggy and more tired than before you napped.
A power nap really is equivalent to 10 to 20 minutes. Nap no longer than 30 minutes. You can take longer naps on the weekend or when you don’t have to work, but don’t get too far off of your sleep schedule.
2. Avoid Napping Too Close to Bedtime
It’s best to nap in the afternoon between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. but not too close to bedtime. If you nap too close to bedtime, you’ll wake back up and not be tired until later.
Don’t eat such a large dinner that you snooze after dinner and then can’t fall asleep later.
3. Don’t Nap If You’re an Insomniac
Methodical napping is effective but not if you have a sleep disorder like insomnia or sleep apnea. If you have a sleep disorder, you want to make sure that when it comes time for bed at night, you’re as tired as you can possibly be.
4. Notice Dreaming
If you dream during a short nap, that means that you’re sleep-deprived because that’s the final stage of sleep in roughly a 90-minute cycle.
5. Keep a Regular Nap Schedule
Keep a regular nap schedule just as you would a regular bedtime. Being scheduled is the most effective way to nap.
6. Stay Warm
Use a blanket to stay warm while you’re napping because your body temperature drops while you snooze. It’s also easier to go to sleep when you’re warm and cozy.
7. Lights Out
Just as at night, make sure that nap time is done in the dark if possible. Darkness reminds the body to relax and fall asleep. If you don’t have access to darkness, which can be more difficult in the afternoon, invest in some eye covers.
Sara Novak specializes in writing on health and food policy. This article was originally published on NaturallySavvy.com