Adults need naps too! A short power nap can get you through the midday slump (or a lazy day) and boost your concentration when you need it the most. However, naps are not created equal. Some leave you feeling refreshed; others make you groggy and can even give you a bad headache. Here are the secrets to a truly effective power nap.
Benefits of a nap
Stressed, tired, dazed from staring at paperwork the whole day? You’ll get more done if you take a nap. Some benefits of naps include better alertness, happier mood, a sense of calm and relaxation, and of course, a burst of energy. Studies also show that people who have had a nap made less mistakes on tests, and had quicker reaction time. Their memory also improved significantly.
What happens when you take a ‘bad nap’
Some naps can create the totally opposite effect. You make wake up feeling disoriented, and a really long nap may affect your ability to achieve deeper sleep later that night. It is not recommended for people who suffer from insomnia, since you need to establish a regular night time sleep cycle first.
When to take a nap
Naps work better if you suddenly feel sleepy (like after a heavy meal) or are preparing yourself for a night shift (because of overtime at work—or your turn at diaper duty with a new baby). Scheduled power naps are also effective. For example, if you notice that your work quality tends to slip at 3pm, then taking a power nap at around that time can help you recharge for the rest of the workday.
Secrets to a power nap
Power naps should last between 10 minutes to half an hour. Anything longer than that will just make you feel very groggy and disoriented.
Timing is everything. Schedule your naps at around 2 pm or 3 pm, when many people lose concentration or feel an energy slump after lunch. Don’t take naps after 4 pm, because you’ll have trouble falling asleep at night, and the tossing and turning in bed will leave you exhausted in the morning—even before the day starts!
And, choose a good place to nap. Turn off the lights, and keep the room temperature comfortable. You may want to open a window to get fresh air, or adjust the room thermostat so it’s not too cold or hot. And turn off the TV, too. Falling asleep in front of the news won’t make you feel rested, since your brain will remain active all throughout.
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