Did You Know You’re Probably Napping Wrong?
Nap Facts – You can try to argue against it, but we think the nap is the best part of the day. It’s like a free little sleep boost right when you need it
Here’s the thing: you might not be napping as well as you could be.
Do you know the best nap length? How about the benefits of a power nap? How about what the definition of a power nap even is?
We’ve got all kinds of nap facts for you to reduce that groggy feeling in the morning.
So whether you’re one of those polyphasic sleepers, an aficionado of afternoon nap facts, or just want to know how to increase alertness and stave off sleep deprivation, give these facts a gander.
Here are some afternoon nap facts that are sure to please.
There are Four Different Types of Napping and Nappers -- Which One Are You About?
Napping folks tend to break down into one of four different categories. While the sleep is usually the same, these folks use naps for their own unique benefits.
Some see naps as a way to increase alertness and stave off feeling sleep deprived, while others like the emotional benefits and improved cognitive functioning that comes with an afternoon siesta.
No matter what type of napping you do, there’s evidence to show that sleep is super important to your overall health.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that you get at least eight hours of total sleep a day.
If you can’t fall asleep for that long at night, sometimes napping can be a way to get the hours in that you’ve missed — even if it’s light sleep.
If the National Sleep Foundation recommends it, then it’s got to be important, right? It’s true, people who sleep more see the benefits of a good night’s sleep in improved cognitive functioning, better overall health, improved reaction time, and better wakefulness.
Building up habits that work for you is so important to avoiding sleep disorders and heading off sleepiness before it becomes a habitual problem.
Those hours are vital, whether you’re getting nighttime sleep, or mixing it up with a little afternoon nap — make sleep a priority.
Dysregulative Napping is About Getting Sleep When You Need it
Most of us fall into this category.
Dysregulative napping is all about getting sleep when you absolutely feel like you need it.
Maybe it’s because you didn’t sleep well the night before, or you’ve had an especially physically demanding day, people who sleep like this use a nap because they can feel their alertness flagging.
These people are big fans of the power nap, and utilize napping in strategic ways.
Typically a twenty-minute nap is the best nap length for dysregulative napping. It’s a way to get the boost without messing up your sleep cycle — preventing you from being able to fall asleep later that night.
That’s the most important thing, your napping should never come at the cost of a good night’s sleep.
Sleep at night is when the body is able to move through the sleep cycle into deeper, more restful areas.
We’re talking REM (rapid eye movement), slow-wave sleep, and Non-REM sleep, the times of night when your sleep foundation is cemented with deep, restorative cognitive benefits.
Those are the sleep times when your long-term memory and short-term memory are better cemented, and the reason that you feel increased alertness after a long sleep.
If you’re doing dysregulative napping try setting a timer for twenty minutes to make sure that you aren’t sleeping for too long (don’t hit the snooze either!).
That way your quick nap will prevent further sleepiness without doing other damage.
Restorative Napping is About Stopping Problems Before They Start
Restorative Napping is different from dysregulative napping in that it’s about the benefits of a good nap, and not waiting until the body feels it needs a deep sleep.
Often these people are athletes or extremely health conscious and use naps as a way to get the most out of their body.
Lebron James is a notable Restorative napper who takes a big nap on game day to recharge his batteries.
You don’t have to be a pro basketballer to recognize that adding napping to your day has a benefit though — your increased energy and alertness will help in your job, your relationships, and even your basic enjoyment of your waking hours. Plus it’s a better option than just pounding more caffeine.
If you ARE someone who loves caffeine and mixing it into your schedule, there is a novel new type of restorative napping called the caffeine nap that could be for you.
Scientists have seen some benefits to this type of nap which basically involves the napper having a coffee or some other type of caffeine right before their afternoon nap.
The caffeine takes a half hour to hit your system so that when you’re waking up from your caffeine nap your sleep inertia gives you an extra boost of energy that can carry you through the rest of your day.
The best nap length for this type of nap is one in which you wake up organically, using your sleep as a guide (no longer than a half hour.)
You should feel awake and alert when you get up from that siesta.
Honestly, this has never been a better time for restorative napping, as all kinds of tech companies are recognizing the brain benefits from having a well-slept workforce.
Many have even installed nap pods and instituted company nap time in a designated nap room to reap the benefits of a perfect nap.
Emotional Napping Recharges Your Emotional Batteries After a Long Day
Often emotional nappers work in extremely taxing environments where they need to be empathetic to the needs of others.
For those type of people, napping represents an amazing break from the grind of the day and a slight pause for a little me time.
They aren’t as interested in afternoon nap facts about what napping does to their body because they’re emotionally resonating with the nap more than anything.
That’s not to say that napping isn’t affecting their body, it is, it’s just that these folks enjoy the act itself as much as the benefits of napping.
While emotional napping is good, if it’s happening for hours every day it could be a sign of depression.
Make sure that your napping isn’t ruling your life.
For folks like this, a little napping after the workday at around five PM can be a good time to fall asleep for a bit without having to worry about losing sleep later at night.
Their best nap length isn’t as important as it can just be a little, fifteen minute light sleep that gets the job done as much as a longer, more intense nap.
Appetitive Napping Are All About the Benefits of an Afternoon Nap
Similar to restorative napping, people who practice appetitive napping are all about the boost that their brain gets when they take a nap.
These are folks who are always looking for the best nap length, are on the cutting edge of nap facts, and can tell you all the benefits of a good night’s sleep.
Chances are if you’ve made it this far in the article, you are into appetitive napping.
They understand that the prefrontal cortex is a vital part of making long-term memory and short-term memory and that this part of the brain needs to be fed with plenty of sleep.
For them, the benefits of napping are cerebral, these people use their brains a lot and need to stay sharp and alert.
For them, a power nap is a brain boost that works better than a shot of caffeine or a supplement.
If you’re into appetitive napping, then falling asleep should never be in question.
You can schedule out a power nap for the same time every afternoon if you feel your brain wavering (say at 2 pm, when the body goes into a natural lull).
Listen to your body and don’t try to fight its natural circadian rhythm, which tells it when to fall asleep.
While you may think you’re one of those polyphasic sleepers, if you find yourself walking up with a groggy feeling every three hours while hitting the snooze, then you may just need some long hours of sleep instead.
No matter what type of napper you are, know that the benefits of getting a full eight hours of sleep are real, and can change your life.
Don’t take our word, (or the word of the National Sleep Foundation), try it for yourself and feel the difference.
Napping is a great way to get the sleep you need and provide a little solace and safe space for yourself in the middle of the day at the same time. It’s what we nappers like to call a “win-win” situation.
What are you waiting for?
The best nap length is one that starts now. Those are the nap facts, now get to it.
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