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The best nap is the one in which you fall asleep quickly and stay asleep for the shortest amount of time, while still waking refreshed. You can experiment with the napping techniques below to see what works for you. Here are six ways to become a successful power napper:
Just as darkness can make for more effective naps, a quiet napping space is also a must. Some people find that they need complete quiet to nap effectively, while others enjoy the hum of white noise which can not only be calming but can also help block out other disturbances. It's also best to assure that you will not be disturbed for the duration of your nap.
In most areas of the world, mid-day naps occur during sunlight hours, which is not the most conducive atmosphere for effective sleep. To provide optimal darkness during daylight hours, use a face mask or eye pillow. Opting for darkness can not only help you fall asleep faster, but it can make your sleep more effective.
You might not always be able to get your power nap in during the optimal mid-day hours, and that's okay. But if you miss your prime nap time window, be sure not to take your nap within three hours of bedtime as it may interfere with important night time sleep.
While most experts agree that effective naps can be a healthier option than relying on another cup of coffee, some people swear by using the power of a quick snooze and some caffeine together. A "caffeine nap," or as some affectionately call a "nappuccino," entails getting a quick caffeine boost followed by a power nap immediately after. The theory behind caffeine naps is that the alertness boosting effect of caffeine kicks in somewhere between 10 and 20 minutes after its ingested leaving just the right amount of time for a power nap.
When taking a nap longer than 30 minutes, you run the risk of heading into deep sleep, which can leave you feeling tired and groggy. Most people find that their optimal power nap is achieved somewhere between 20-30 minutes. Some people even find naps as short as 1 to 2 minutes to be effective. Experiment with power naps of different durations to find what works best for you.
Assuming that you follow a fairly normal nighttime sleep schedule, prime time for power naps is typically in the middle of the day from about 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. when your energy level dips due to a rise in the hormone melatonin. Try to schedule your dedicated nap time during those hours.
When you're tired, it can be easy to sleep past your 30-minute maximum. To avoid oversleeping (and the grogginess that can follow), set an alarm to wake you. While many dedicated power nappers claim that they have trained themselves to nap only for the amount of time they set aside, it's always best to have a backup plan.
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