These days there is no shortage of things to be done, people to connect with, chores to catch up on, it can be hard to get the recommended amount of sleep at night. The National Sleep Foundation has found that adults typically need seven to nine hours of sleep a night for optimal function, but 30% get less than six. Missing a few hours of sleep a night can result in a slow accumulation of sleep debt and can have the same effect as staying awake for 24 hours straight. Chronic sleep debt can contribute to fatigue, hunger pangs, increased stress levels, reduced attention span, and declined cognitive performance.
One way to combat the effects of sleep deprivation – and repay some sleep debt – is to incorporate daytime napping into your schedule. Some other reasons you may consider making time for a nap:
- You are experiencing new fatigue or unexpected sleepiness
- You are about to experience sleep loss – for example, due to a long work shift or traveling
- You experience poor sleep quality or insomnia at night
The length of the nap and the type of sleep you get during that nap work together to determine potential health benefits. Here are some benefits you could experience based on the length of time you are able to nap. As you increase the nap time, you get the benefits listed PLUS all the benefits of the shorter naps.
Health Benefits of Napping. By Time.
10-20 minute nap
Ah, the power nap. It brings many benefits, including:
- Reduce sleepiness
- Improve cognitive performance
- Increase your alertness, attention, and energy levels
- Improve your mood
- Improve your motor performance
- Reduce stress levels
20-30 minute nap
In less time than a TV show, you could:
- Enhance your creativity
- Sharpen your memory
30-60 minute nap
In less time than a Netflix episode, you could:
- Sharpen your decision-making skills, including memorization and recall
- Improve your memory preservation
60-90 minute nap
90 minutes is the typical length of a full sleep cycle. In less time than a Hallmark Channel movie, you could:
- Move into rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is critical for problem-solving
- Help create new connections in your brain
- Enhance your creativity
- Reduce negative reactivity
- Promote happiness
So, who’s ready for a nap?!? I am!
Here are some tips and tricks to help you make the most of out your nap:
- Choose a restful environment – a quiet, dark, comfortable place with few distractions where you can relax. Try to limit the noise and light in the room and make sure the temperature is comfortable as well.
- Choose a time that works for you – aim to nap at that time each day. It may be more beneficial to nap in the early afternoon as napping after 3 p.m. can interfere with your nighttime sleep pattern.
- Set an alarm so you do not over-sleep.
- Create a routine around your nap – it can set the mood. Wherever you nap, bring something along that signifies sleep to you. For example, this could be a sleep mask, a neck pillow, relaxing playlist, cozy blanket, warm socks, a specific essential oil, CBD honey, etc. Really anything that helps promote relaxation and sleep within you.
- If you are napping at the office, try closing your door and hanging a sign that says, “will return in __ minutes.” Alternatives to this are napping in your car or on a picnic blanket at a local green space.
- After napping, give yourself time to wake up fully before resuming activity, particularly those that require a quick or sharp response.
Now, we give you full permission to go take a nap!
Source: @2016 The Institute for Functional Medicine