Full disclosure: I take naps almost every day.
Or, okay, at least every couple of days.
I became an avid napper long before I found out that it’s actually good for your health. At the beginning it was probably linked to my depression – a silver lining, eh? – which naturally turned into a part of my routine.
Now it’s hard to tell when and why exactly I started heading to bed after school. I only know that it was helping me to get on with my daily (or rather nightly) teenage routine.
Same thing kept happening when I was studying in the university. In between classes I’d go home (through half of the city) to take an hour long nap and come back straight to classes.
Even now, while I spend most of my days at home, I often find myself napping just to clear my head and stay active.
One of the most prominent signs of my depression has always been heavy mornings – I can be ready to crawl back into bed two hours after waking up. Not every day, but you know how it goes.
Naps help me get rid of that exhaustion and properly focus on important tasks I mostly leave for the evening.
Alright, that’s enough of my own habits. I only hope I convinced you that my tips in the field of napping can be taken without any salt!
Why Naps Are Good For You
From personal to universal: let’s talk about good reasons for you to start taking naps more regularly.
First, it helps to stay alert and focused
I am back to circadian rhythm (if you want to know more, check my post on why daily routine is important), our own body clock.
Obviously, we are more alert in the morning and start to relax closer to the night.
However, it’s not a straight pattern. Our minds respond not only to the amount of light outside, but to internal processes as well. A lot of neurobiology is involved (which I’m not gonna bring up but feel free to indulge here), but the point is – we have natural ups and downs all day long.
And one universal “down” happens in the afternoon, between 1PM and 3PM. That’s why you are more likely to feel all groggy and lost after lunch.
Say thanks to your brain!
Some of us save ourselves with caffeine, some – with exercises, some – with “taking it easy”. All of these are effective, but in this post I’m naturally going to suggest you taking a nap (and some studies support me here as well).
Properly scheduled nap will bring some of the lost energy back. That, in turn, will lead to better performance for the rest of the day.
Second, it’s good for anxiety
Good naps will help you and your body to relax.
Let me go back to my own experience for a moment. While I was studying, stressful days were not unusual. My sensitivity and anxiety were not helping either, so sometimes I was coming back home so wired up my limbs were aching from tension.
The only way for me to relax was a nap.
Of course, you have to be careful when it comes to your mental health. Long naps may only worsen your day if you can’t control them, and instead of being ready for a productive evening, you’ll spend it in bed.
But if you are under a lot of stress that only makes it harder to go on with your day – try short but good rest. It will take away some effects off your body, which in turn will ease out your mind.
Now, do you agree that it’s good to take naps?
Here, let me share with you a bit more tips on how to do it the right way.
1. Get a Good Night Sleep
This one is very important (even if I myself can’t always stick to it).
If you will start taking long and/or regular naps during the day without having enough sleep at night, it will affect your sleep schedule – and not in a good way. You don’t want any problems with length and quality of your nighttime rest, right?
And no naps can fully restore energy from a bad night.
Also, DO NOT take naps if you have insomnia. Naps are not enough to bring back your energy, they will only make things worse.
To be honest, look out for any sign of any sleep disorder.
You have to have a good night sleep on your own before trying to boost your energy additionally.
Of course, I can’t and won’t stop you from napping after a night spent partying, watching movies or having lovely time with your s/o. (Or just a night of bad sleep, like I had today). But don’t let naps interfere with your natural rhythm of life.
2. Have Established Sleep Routine
And we’re back on it.
If you’ve seen my other posts, you must be used to me chirping about it, so I’ll keep it short.
Stable daily routine is good for your health, your concentration and activity during the day, and your sleep. And good night sleep is a must for nap’s effects to kick in (throwback to point no.1).
The best way to insert snoozing time in your days is to make it regular.
And if you don’t have a routine, effects will differ from day to day. Circadian rhythm, remember?
Also, if that’s the case, then it’s time for you to work on your schedule. And what can be a better help than printable planners? Yes, yes, two of them!
Sign up down below, and get access to my library of freebies – self-care planner, sleep schedule planner, daily affirmations and more, and for free!
3. Keep It Less Than 30 Minutes Long (or Increase to an Hour)
Okay, so this one is a mixture of studies and my own experience.
Professionals say that dozing off for 20-30 minutes is the best.
You can even drink coffee before heading to bed (or whatever space you are using to rest). Caffeine kicks in about 20 minutes after consuming – it’ll give you an additional boost.
But for me personally it is rarely enough.
Maybe, it’s because I’m falling asleep for too long, or maybe the anxiety I carry needs more time to calm down. But after 30 minutes I get a headache and grogginess much worse than before.
If I can’t drowse for longer, I grab a cup of coffee and go out for a walk instead (which is not the point I’m trying to make in this post, but honesty is honesty).
That’s why my personal choice is an hour (of course, if you have that much time). It’s enough for me to wake up without alarm, ready to get and go.
So, choose what suits you best!
4. Sleep Inertia
Remember that grogginess I mentioned before? “Inertia” is its official title.
Always keep it in mind, especially while you are still figuring out what kind of naps work for you. You never know when it’ll hit you.
Don’t be too afraid of it though.
I’ve been reading a lot of articles about sleep lately, and they often portray inertia as something you need to avoid at every cost.
But it’s not that bad.
Yeah, it’s unpleasant, but have you ever woken up groggy in the morning – after a night of not so proper sleep? Or after dozing off in a car/plane/subway?
I’m sure you have, at least as a child. It wasn’t that awful, was it?
Drink a lot of water and don’t stay in horizontal position for too long. It’ll go away in some 20-30 minutes – and clearer vision will come anyway.
Just keep in mind that it may happen. And if you have a task that needs more attention – make sure to have some free time first, just in case.
5. Turn the Alarm On
It may sound ridiculous, but I can’t count all the times I forgot about it.
When I have time, of course, I snooze without it (and my body is used to that one-hour-off part of routine already). Alarms overall make your sleep worse.
But you can’t always rely on your internal clock, especially when your time for a nap is restricted.
Another tip – don’t hit the snooze button.
I was such a fan of that thing, having dozens of alarms for every morning only to enjoy the feeling of “ah, it’s still early, I can stay in bed”.
But in fact, snoozing is not good at all. You still wake up after the first alarm and each of the later ones only disrupt your sleep and worsen your feelings.
But don’t jump up the moment you hear the alarm either!
Give your body a few minutes to wake up fully on its own (you can count to 10 or listen to your breaths) – and then move on to getting up. Make it easier for your mind and body.
6. Better After Lunch
You can find all kinds of advises for the best time for your naps.
Some say it’s better around noon, before 2-3PM, as later naps will affect your night rest.
Others claim that late afternoon (like 4-5PM) is better, because that’s when you are most likely to need a bit of energy boost.
I’d say you have to look at your schedule. When do you have time for a nap? When do you feel the most tired? Do you have any specific tasks you have to be ready for?
Whether you go to sleep at 10PM or 2AM matters as well. And how many hours you spend sleeping every night.
My own choice I already mentioned – 3-4PM.
I have my cup of coffee a couple of hours after waking up and proper lunch around four, so the time after caffeine wears out is the most efficient. And I get hungry enough for the meal.
Check your own routine, find time and place you can use for napping – and start trying!
7. See What Works For You
I note the tips that come from my own experience for that particular reason.
Sleep routine is a personal thing – what works for me will not always work for you. Not mentioning the different working/studying/life schedules we all have.
One hour after lunch is good for me, because I have time and space for that much time. And because my mental health affects my energy levels a lot.
But 45 minutes around noon may be good for you. Or 20 minutes after morning coffee. Or an hour in the evening, if you prefer to work at night.
Figure out what time and length is best for you, and then try. Better to start with 15 minutes or so, just to get the gist of it, and keep gradually extending – if you’ll feel like you need to.
Remember that things rarely work from the first go.
And always keep track of how you feel! There’s a chance that naps won’t be as good for you.
According to a study, people are divided by their natural tendencies and, oddly enough, genetics. Some of us just need naps and some don’t.
Do you know which one are you?
I didn’t know about that study before, so I’m actually curious! Let me know in the comments. Do you need to have a nap sometimes? Have any of the studies I linked work for you? What’s your own experience with napping?