The kind of nap you choose

The kind of nap you choose

 ... will depend on several variables:

  • How much time you have at your disposal.
  • How much time you'll need to recover from sleep inertia after your nap.
  • How your nap will affect your ability to fall asleep later that day.

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Basic categories of nap
  • The Preparatory Nap: This is the planned nap. The responsible nap.
  • The Habitual Nap: You make time for it regularly. It's a habit and it's scheduled.
  • The Emergency Nap: taken out of bleary-eyed, foggy-headed necessity. They are a symptom of poor sleep hygiene, and they can strike at any time.
When to nap

There's no such thing as a single perfect time to take a nap, but a commonly recommended window. For most people, early afternoon is best. 

We are biphasic sleepers: we pack in most of our sleep at night, but most people's brains experience a dip in alertness somewhere between 1 and 4 p.m.

Sleep inertia

It is the state of impaired cognition, grogginess, and disorientation commonly experienced on awakening from sleep.

This is why most experts suggest avoiding naps between 40 and 60 minutes in length. 

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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 — usually around six to eight hours after waking. For most people, “prime napping time falls between 1 and 3 p.m.,”

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Timing is everything

The best way to nap also depends on what kind of effects you’re looking for:

  • If you’re looking for a restorative nap, you should sleep later in the day when you have an increased amount of slow wave sleep.
  • If you’re looking for a nap that might aid your creativity and problem solving, you should sleep earlier in the day when you experience more REM.

Your body temperature naturally goes down at night when it's time to sleep. 

Two hours before bed, soak in the tub for 20 or 30 minutes. A shower is less effective but can work, as well.

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