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  • Writer's pictureNidra Yogi

Responsible napping

Updated: Dec 29, 2023

Napping: The Do's and Don'ts

Ah, the allure of a midday siesta!

Whether it's the consequence of a poor night's sleep or just the body's natural rhythm, if you're struggling with good rest at night you may be struggling with a nap during the day.

While napping can be a beneficial tool to combat fatigue and increase alertness, be mindful to maximize its benefits and avoid potential pitfalls.

Why Do We Nap?

Napping is not just a modern-day indulgence. Historically, humans have had biphasic sleep patterns, which consisted of two sleep segments: a longer nocturnal period and a shorter midday rest. The benefits of napping include:

  • Improved Alertness: Even a short power nap can sharpen your attention and improve performance.

  • Enhanced Mood: Napping can increase serotonin levels, responsible for mood regulation, thus reducing irritability and stress.

  • Better Memory: REM sleep, often achieved in longer naps, plays a crucial role in memory consolidation.

Do's of Napping

  1. Time It Right: Keep your nap duration between 20-30 minutes for a quick energy boost. If you nap for 90 minutes, you can enjoy a full sleep cycle, from light to deep to REM sleep. However, REM sleep can interfere with your ability to get deep rest at night. Avoid these longer naps if you're struggling with sleep.

  2. Find a Comfortable Spot: Ensure the room is dark, quiet, and cool. Use a blanket as our body temperature drops during sleep, and consider an eye mask or earplugs if needed.

  3. Plan Your Naps: If you know you'll be up late or expect a long day, a preventive nap early in the day can help ward off later fatigue.

  4. Listen to Your Body: If you find yourself consistently tired after lunch, it might be your body’s natural circadian rhythm telling you it's time for a rest or it may be a sign that your daily habits are creating interference in your daily performance.

  5. Stay Relaxed: If you can't sleep, just lying down and relaxing can be restorative. Sometimes called Non-Sleep Deep Rest, this is gaining popularity. Don't stress about not falling asleep – the relaxation can still be beneficial.

Don'ts of Napping

  1. Don't Nap Too Long: Sleeping for more than 30 minutes (unless you're going for a full 90-minute cycle) can lead to sleep inertia – that groggy, disoriented feeling after waking up.

  2. Don't Nap Too Late: Napping after 3 pm can interfere with nighttime sleep. Aim for mid-afternoon to align with the natural dip in circadian rhythms.

  3. Don't Replace Night Sleep: Naps should complement good nighttime sleep, not replace it. If you're napping because you're up all night, it's time to address your nighttime sleep habits.

  4. Avoid Napping If You Suffer from Insomnia or Poor Night Sleep: For some, napping can exacerbate nighttime sleep problems, especially if done irregularly or for extended periods.

  5. Don't Neglect Sleep Quality: It's not just about the duration. Ensure your napping environment is conducive to restful sleep.

Types of Naps

Understanding different nap types can help you choose what's best for your needs:

  • Power Nap: Lasting 10-20 minutes, it boosts alertness without leaving you feeling groggy. Perfect for a quick recharge.

  • REM Nap: Lasting around 90 minutes, this nap includes the vital REM stage, helping with creativity and emotional processing.

  • Extended Nap: Naps that are 30-60 minutes long can result in grogginess due to waking up from a deeper sleep stage. However, they can be beneficial for cognitive memory processing.

Napping and Its Cultural Relevance

In many Mediterranean and Latin American cultures, siestas are woven into the societal fabric, often aligned with the hottest period of the day. Meanwhile, in Japan, the power nap, or "inemuri" (sleeping while present), is common in corporate and public settings, signaling dedication to work.

In the fast-paced Western world, napping has sometimes been viewed as laziness. However, with increasing evidence on its benefits, this perception is changing. Giants like Google and NASA are incorporating nap pods or promoting napping for better productivity.

Tools for napping

Napping, when done correctly, can be a potent tool in our arsenal to combat fatigue, enhance mood, and boost cognitive function. Like any tool, it’s all about how you use it. By following these do's and don'ts, you can ensure that you're getting the most out of your naps without compromising your nighttime sleep.

If you're looking for something to help calm your mind for that quick power nap, CalmAlma has episodes targeted at a quick 20 minute or shorter rest. This can be particularly helpful when you're trying to make the most of every minute of idle time and maximizing performance for the rest of the day.

So, the next time you feel that midday slump, maybe you don't need to fight it. Embrace it, nap wisely, and wake up refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of your day.

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