Spring Time is Around the Corner and That Means More Naps
What’s the best part of spring? Is it the gentle thawing of the earth? Seeing the snow melt and the buds return to the trees? Maybe it’s the wildlife returning from their tropical destinations, our flora and fauna making our surroundings teeming with life. Perhaps the greatest part about the warming weather is the possibility for more naps. There’s nothing better than a sun-drenched, cozy, mid-afternoon/after work nap. Those little boosts in rest can leave you energized and able to finish out your day with a renewed sense of energy and purpose.
It’s not just a fad either, new research from the Harvard Medical School shows that naps are a huge component of overall health and wellness. With all kinds of tech and fortune 500 companies hopping on the sleep bandwagon by offering napping stations to their employees, it seems like napping has become a huge part of the American work day. We for one, welcome the change, especially as the CDC reports that America is in the midst of a sleep crisis. We’ve come up with the best ways to get a quick snooze in now that we’re finally about to enter peak nap season.
Length is Key
A question we constantly get is “how long should I nap?”.The standard nap should be twenty to forty minutes in length, any longer than that and you risk messing up your sleep cycle, shorter than that and you may not be getting the best refresher. Try experimenting with a length for a few weeks and see what works best for you. It seems like a half hour has been working for me, and now my body expects the little respite around mid-afternoon everyday. Length is a great way to train your body.
Dr. Kent Smith, D-ABDSM, ASBA, president of the American Sleep and Breathing Academy and the founder of Sleep Dallas, says, “[It] depends on the reason for the nap, but fifteen to forty-five minutes is considered an optimal duration, as longer than that can put you into a REM cycle, making you feel groggy.”
Time of Day
A good nap usually happens between 2:30 and 5 PM. If you’re at work during these hours, try to sneak away into a dark and quiet place for a little shuteye. Even if you only have 15 or so minutes, this can be a nice substitute for a second cup of coffee in the afternoon. Coffee has the exact opposite effect on your sleep schedule. You may feel energized for the second half of your day, but it can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule at night, leaving you tossing and turning and unable to fall asleep. The half life of a cup of coffee’s worth of caffeine is up to twelve hours, making a nap a welcome alternative for a quick boost in the afternoon.
If you’re still a slave to the coffee bean, it can be a fun to try a coffee nap, which entails drinking a cup of coffee, then sleeping for twenty minutes, and then waking up as the caffeine crests to give you a dual energy boost of sleep and caffeine. All the rage in sleep scientist circles, there’s evidence to suggest that this can work really well if you time it right. Buyer beware, if you don’t get to sleep quickly enough, it can lead to some funky dreams.
As we enter these spring months, remember that it’s so important to get the right amount of sleep for you. Naps are never a substitute for a good night’s sleep, but they can give you that extra kick to get through your day. So stop, smell the roses, then sleep next to them. You deserve it.