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How to Take the Perfect Nap

How to Take the Perfect Nap

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Timing is key

Plan your nap for the time when your body is naturally sleepier and you’re more likely to fall asleep.

Everybody, no matter if they live in a warm or cold climate or if they’ve eaten a big meal, experiences these subtle changes at bedtime and, to a lesser extent, in the afternoon — usua...

Know your sleep stages

Different phases of sleep confer different benefits on the brain and body, so you can actually hack your nap by adjusting when you nap and for how long.

The first 20 minutes of your nap are spent in Stage 2 sleep, which provides energy and alertness. Stay asleep longer and you’ll enter slow...

Perfect Nap = 20 minutes

The National Sleep Foundation recommends a snooze lasting 20 to 30 minutes. That’s long enough to grab a dose of that energizing Stage 2 sleep, without the risk of being plunged into the slow-wave sleep that can make you groggy.

A famous 1994 NASA study found that long-haul pilots who nappe...

Don't sleep too late in the day

Improperly timed naps can interfere with your nighttime sleep, experts say. Don’t sleep too long or too late in the day, especially if you have trouble falling asleep at night.

Try a caffeine nap

Since caffeine takes about 20 minutes to kick in, almost exactly the recommended nap length, down your latte just before lying down. 

The caffeine will act as a natural alarm, waking you up refreshed and ready to focus on the next activity. A 2003 Japanese study found that caffeine naps wer...

Clear your mind

The main barrier to falling asleep at nap time is an overactive mind

“Nap Bishop” Tricia Hersey recommends journaling before you lie down, to process whatever is nagging you. Or try a guided meditation like Yoga Nidra, also known as yogic sleep, to relieve stress and give your brain a break...

Carry a nap kit

An airplane nap kit, complete with sleep mask, neck pillow, and earplugs, can enable you to create the right conditions for sleep almost anywhere.

Practice makes perfect

You can train yourself to become better at napping

it gets easier and more fun the more you do it, like riding a bike, but horizontal.

Once your brain and body get in the habit, you’ll learn to drift off quickly and even wake up at the perfect time without an alarm.

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