Scientists and doctors agree: napping is good for you. Not only does a sneaky snooze improve alertness, it can also relieve stress, increase productivity, and boost overall happiness.
But not all naps are created equal. There’s an art to optimal napping, as tested and verified by science. Here’s what the pros say about making the most of your midday shuteye.
Choose The Right Time Of Day
Sleeping at different times of day produces different results. A morning nap is more likely to contain REM sleep (or dream sleep), which can be emotionally calming. An afternoon nap, on the other hand, is more likely to contain restorative and memory-boosting deep sleep called “slow wave sleep”. The idea is to base your napping hours around which benefits you’re looking to obtain, but there’s a catch. The best possible nap contains a balance of both kinds of sleep, so Dr. Sara Mednick, a sleep researcher and the author of a book about napping, has created an interactive tool to help determine your ideal nap time based on when your alarm rings in the morning.
Choose The Right Length
There are also two sides to the perfect nap length coin. According to studies, naps in the 10 to 20 minute range produce improvements in energy levels and cognitive function. A 30 minute nap has similar benefits, but results in grogginess known as “sleep inertia” afterwards. In order to skip the sleep hangover, experts recommend taking a lengthier snooze if you need more than 20 minutes. Napping for an hour and a half allows you to complete a full REM cycle and gloss over the grogginess.
It seems counterintuitive to down a wake-up beverage just before dozing, but research in England has confirmed its positive effects. Drink a cup of coffee, then curl up for a 20 minute nap. The caffeine will hit your system just as the drowsiness dissipates, leaving you with a heroic energy boost to blast through the remainder of your day.
[Via Apartment Therapy]