The day after daylight savings returns is National Napping Day and what better way to celebrate than by shirking your responsibilities and taking a nice nap! Your boss won't mind... probably. What's that you say? You haven't napped since you were a wee baby? Well, carry me out with the tongs! Don't you worry your sleepy little head, big bro is gonna teach you all about napping.
So what is napping beyond a short version of the best thing in life: sleep? Sure it's good if you're really tired, but being tired all the time is just part of being an adult. Napping is for small children, right? Au contraire, mon frère. Napping is for all, and here are 3 reasons why you'll want to embrace a good napping routine.
1. Napping Keeps You Sharp
Scenario: it's Tuesday at work. You've had a good productive morning and reward yourself with a meatball sandwich from a local restaurant. It's delicious. You come back to work, sit down on your chair, put your hands on the keyboard, and BOOM: food coma. Not only is your energy evaporating into the ether, your willpower to push through and do work is being drained away by your stomach. You could just sit at your desk for the rest of the day, eyes glossed over starring at the monitor, drool dripping on your shirt. OR you can take twenty minutes to nap, and come back bobbing and weaving like Ali vs Dokes. A proper nap can rid you of brain fog and keep you focused and alert. Which means fewer mistakes and increased productivity.
2. Napping Chills You Out, Man
Overwhelmed with stress? Take a nap. Got some anxiety? Take a nap. Being a bit of a grumpo? Go take a nap! A nap won't solve all your problems - unless your problems are somehow nap-related - but it can give you a break from what's ailing you, and force your brain to stop trying to problem solve and shut down for a bit. Starting with a clear mind may even be what helps you resolve the issue.
3. Napping Makes Brain Work More Good
In a study published in 2018, researchers found that students who took a nap after a 90-minute class performed better on a test given a week later than students who crammed immediately after. Their findings suggest that naps may help the brain turn information into long-term memory. This is because while sleeping the brain processes what it learned throughout the day. This can also help you consolidate memories and experiences into renewed creative energy. Many of history's greatest innovators like Einstein, Tesla, and Leonardo Da Vinci, are known to have leaned on the power of napping to maximize their creative output.
So those are the benefits of napping. But how does one nap? How does one sleep in the middle of the day? This is where I stumble a bit. As much as I love to sleep, I feel my brain is way too high-strung to simply plop itself into sleep mode in the middle of the day. Perhaps you feel the same way. Luckily for us, the internet is full of knowledgeable strangers who've provided us with tips to help lull us into short-term-sleep-land.
Timing is Everything
Imagine you wake up, go to work, then pull out a pillow and try to catch some Zs before your first meeting. Unless you're sleep-deprived, you're going to have a hard time falling asleep. Your body has just woken up, and it's going to reject sleep harder than Simon Cowell. Ok but about waiting until after work? You get home, settle in, and try to take a nap at around 6 pm. That could work, you may fall asleep, but more than likely you're going to screw up with your ability to fall asleep at bedtime, and leave you tired the whole next day. The best time for a nap would be the early afternoon, like after lunch. This is far enough from the morning so your body may be ready for sleep, and far enough from night time so it won't cut into your overnight Zs.
It's not just about When you nap, you also need to consider the duration of your nap. Not only do you risk cutting into the sleep you were meant to get at night, a long nap could also have you waking up more tired than before. This is because your body cycles through different stages of sleep, and waking up in the middle of the wrong stage can leave you with sleep inertia - that groggy and disoriented feeling you get if you've ever been forced awake in the middle of the night. You want to avoid falling into a deep sleep; a nap that's about 20 minutes seems to do the trick. A little trick you can try, besides setting an alarm, you can drink coffee before you nap, and you'll wake up just as the caffeine hits for you to ride that wave of feeling both refreshed from the nap and energized from the coffee.
Set the Mood
Relatively few people are blessed with the ability to sleep just about anywhere. Most of us need a mattress and a cool dark room. That's a little hard to come by in the middle of the day at work, but where there's a will, there's an impromptu sleep room. A decent eye mask will bring the darkness to wherever you are. There's a good chance that if your work provides a common area for employees, it's going to have too many people coming in and out for you to sleep there. Your best bet is your car: car seats are meant to be comfortable, you can control the temperature and the music, and unless you live in some crazy sitcom universe, people aren't going to just step in and out of your car uninvited. If you're at home, it may be better if you opt-out of napping on your bed. Getting too comfortable will make it harder to wake up on time.
Listen, naps are not just for babies. If you're sleep-deprived or expecting to be, a good nap can set you right, keep you alert, and increase your productivity. On the other hand, if you have good sleep hygiene and still experience frequent fatigue after a full night of sleep, it's important to speak with a sleep professional as you may have an underlying health condition such as sleep apnea.
If you'd like to have a better night's rest, try our online scheduling portal to schedule an appointment with Dr. Landry today.