A good nap is like hitting a reset button.
If you’re feeling exhausted or gearing up for a big night, napping can boost your alertness, improve your mood and reduce fatigue. But go about your nap the wrong way, and you’ll mess up your sleep schedule and feel groggy afterward.
There are tons of little tips and tricks you can employ to make sure you get the best nap possible. Here are five quick ways to boost your daily siesta.
1. Take ‘coffee naps.’
Caffeine before sleep defies all logic, but sometimes science defies logic. According to scientists, a quick “coffee nap” can be more effective than regular naps. If you have some caffeine — that is, a quick cuppa — before a 20-minute nap, the caffeine will kick in by the time you’re awake.
It’s important to keep the nap brief, though. Any longer than 20 minutes and you’ll start sleeping too deeply.
2. Time it to your needs.
Though the core concern is fighting fatigue, there are many reasons people need to take naps. It’s important, then, to know what kind of nap is best for you.
Storing up on sleep before a big test? Take a 90-minute nap. Experiments have shown that people taking 90-minute naps performed 40% better on memory and creativity tests after the fact, and also performed better than people who took shorter naps, or no naps at all. Dreaming and getting REM sleep seems to be what improves these naps.
Don’t mind overcoming sleep inertia? Opt for a 20- to 30-minute nap. You’ll still get cognitive boosts and feel alert.
3. Keep it before 5 p.m.
Napping too close to nighttime can wreck your sleep schedule, especially if you already have trouble sleeping through the night. Experts recommend grabbing a nap before 5 p.m.
4. Chug cold water afterward.
If you feel the grogginess of sleep inertia after waking up, grab a glass of cold water. It’s a quick, simple way to beat disorientation.
5. You don’t have to lie down.
Any expert morning napper on the subway or frequent air traveler could tell you that. Napping or sleeping while sitting up is fine, and just as effective as laying down. Sitting while sleeping can have potential health hazards, according to Slate, but since naps are so brief, these concerns aren’t as urgent.
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