Nap Logistics: You Too Can Nap
Naps are not a replacement for your nighttime sleep. If you aren’t getting enough nighttime sleep, naps have the potential to be really helpful. Even if you are getting good nighttime sleep, there are many physical and mental benefits from snoozing on the nap bandwagon.
Today, let’s look at some tips to help you improve your napping.
1. Schedule Your Naps
A 20-minute nap can do wonders. It can make you more alert and give you a boost of energy. Of course, a 45- to 60-minute nap can be even better. So open up your calendar, find your gaps, and pencil in some shut-eye. Just avoid napping too late in the day, as if it is within five hours of your actual bedtime, it can disrupt your nighttime sleep.
2. Set the Scene
To help you fall asleep faster, find a place that allows you to mentally separate it from the outside world. That doesn’t mean you need a bedroom. But you do want to remove nap blockers—little things that remind you of work or other responsibilities.
3. Be Safe
When you nap, make sure that you and your stuff are safe and secure. If your place of employment has secure parking, consider napping in your car. (Crack the windows in the summer.) If you choose to nap in the park, make sure your belongings are secure or that you won’t get a soccer ball to the head. Just be smart about it and avoid making yourself vulnerable.
4. Shut Off
The little pings that come from every email or text can make settling down to nap pretty difficult. So if you can, power down your phone, computer, or instant messaging pings.
Light prohibits the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps you sleep. Whatever you can do to make your nap space dark, it will help. And those sleep masks might look silly, but they work.
Seems obvious, but noise gets in the way of sleep. At night, everyone else is sleeping, so noise is often less of an issue. But for naps, it can be hard to find a quiet place. Earplugs to the rescue.
7. Assume the Position
You nap better if you can lie down. Doing so helps signal your mind and body that it’s time to chill. One idea is to keep a yoga mat nearby, which is almost like having a mini bed at your beck and call.
8. Watch the Caffeine (and Other Chemicals)
The same rules that apply to nocturnal sleep apply to napping regarding smoking, caffeine, and other chemicals. If you’re planning on taking a nap at 1 PM, your last cup of coffee should be no later than 9 AM. And remember, sodas, teas, and even chocolate can contain caffeine.
Most importantly, give yourself permission to nap. Tell yourself that napping will actually make you feel better, do better, and be better. You are not being lazy. You are not being unproductive. You are doing yourself, and the world around you, a favor.
Tomorrow is our final lesson. We’ll go through Dr. Mednick’s answers to questions she’s commonly asked.
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