How to take a successful nap

Naps are a fantastic solution to just about any life problem.

Feeling tired from the night before? Take a snooze and rest up. Feeling overwhelmed with work, your social life, or the inescapable nature of climate change? Close your eyes and forget about everything for a bit. 

A good nap leaves you feeling refreshed, recharged, and ready to take on the rest of your day (1). A bad nap, on the other hand, does not. 

From worsening existing feelings of stress to causing you to forget the year we’re living in, subpar naps can be annoying at best and nearly debilitating at worst. 

To help make poor naps a thing of the past, we’re going to look at some of the simple steps you can take to nap like a champ.

Keep them short

Sure, it’s tempting to lay down for hours on end, especially when you don’t get much sleep the night before. However, the key to feeling good after a nap is to keep your shut-eye time short. 

Most experts recommend limiting your naps to around 30 minutes. Shorter naps might not be long enough, while longer ones might make you feel groggy afterward (2). 

Depending on when you go to bed, longer naps can also make it harder to fall asleep at night. 

Use an alarm to help ensure your body rests for exactly the right amount of time. 

Nap at the right time

Another easy way to mess up your nightly sleep schedule is by napping at the wrong time. In most cases, sleep experts recommend trying to nap only between 1 to 3 PM. 

Why is that?

The early afternoon is a natural siesta time for our bodies. If you have a normal sleep schedule, your body might not be ready to sleep before that. Likewise, trying to nap afterward can make falling asleep later a challenge. 

Get cozy

While some people might have a superpower that lets them fall asleep anywhere, most of us don’t. Because of that, when nap time rolls around, make sure you’re resting in a comfortable, sleep-inducing environment.

Try to make the space as dark, cool, and quiet as possible. If you use an eye mask, a white noise machine, or some other tool to help you sleep better at night, don’t be afraid to pull that out when you nap. 

Everyone is different

Remember that everyone views naps differently. Some people swear by them, while others cringe at the thought of laying down in the afternoon to rest. 

Try to figure out what type of sleeper you are. Do you need a quick rest in the afternoon to help you power through the day? Is it something that helps with mental health more than anything else?

If you’re constantly exhausted around the afternoon, it could be a sign of a more serious sleep condition, like insomnia or sleep apnea. Consider chatting with your doctor to get to the bottom of things. 

Unwind and recharge

If you’re one of the 34% of adults who naps on a typical day, make sure you’re getting the most out of your rest time (3). 

Nap for the right amount of time at the right time, get cozy, and remember—everyone sees naps a little bit differently.

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