Napping isn't just for kids anymore; adults need a break in the day as well. If you have had a long couple of days at work or have been deprived of sleep for some other reason, you may need a nap to rejuvenate and get your life back in gear. Don't let it backfire on you though; make sure you are resting at the right time of the day and for the proper length of time. Otherwise, that much-needed nap may give you the exact opposite results you were hoping for.
Most of us have never really thought about there being a right and wrong way to take a nap. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, adult napping is only beneficial if it is done the proper way.
So what is the right way to take a nap? The Mayo Clinic offers these tips:
Nap in the afternoon. The best time to take a sleep break is the middle of the afternoon when you may experience lower levels of alertness or after-lunch grogginess. Naps taken at this time typically do not interfere with nighttime sleeping patterns. However, keep in mind that your personal schedule plays a role in determining the best time for rest.
Keep nap times short, usually no more than 10-30 minutes. Anything longer than this may result in sleep inertia that can last anywhere from a few minutes to the rest of the day.
Create a relaxing environment. Try to relax in a dark, quiet area with a comfortable room temperature. Many people seem to rest easier in a cooler environment.
Give yourself adequate time to wake up. This is particularly necessary for those who must resume activities directly after waking. If you are napping at work or must do something afterward that requires alertness and sharp response time, allow yourself a few minutes to adequately wake up.
Resting in the middle of the day carries a number of benefits for children as well as adults. Some of these benefits include:
Improved performance at school or work
Quicker reaction time
Napping has been shown to increase alertness and reduce accidents and mistakes in the workplace. According to the National Sleep Foundation, a study on astronauts and military pilots at NASA revealed that a short nap increased alertness by 100 percent and performance by 34 percent. The pilots and astronauts in the study were given a 40-minute time-frame to take a nap. On average, those in the study group slept approximately 26 minutes.
In spite of the many benefits of adult napping, however, catching a few winks in the middle of the day can have its drawbacks for some. Some people may simply have difficulty falling asleep in the daytime or may not be able to rest anywhere other than their own bed. Other downfalls of napping include:
Sleep inertia – Naps can leave a person feeling groggy and disoriented, especially if the nap was longer than 20 minutes. While sleep inertia usually only lasts a short while, it can leave some feeling disoriented and tired the rest of the day.
Wakefulness – Longer naps or naps taken later in the day may have an adverse effect on your nighttime sleep. If you generally have difficulty sleeping at night, a nap will likely only amplify the problem.
Heart problems – The National Sleep Foundation reports that one study has indicated that individuals who are already at risk of heart failure may increase the risk if they nap regularly.
A study published in the research journal, Sleep, examined the effects of naps of varying lengths and no naps. The study revealed that short, 10-minute naps resulted in reduced tiredness, elevated alertness, and improved cognitive abilities. Naps 30 minutes or longer often resulted in sleep inertia and disorientation. While adults can benefit just as much as children from a relaxing break in the middle of the day, keep it short for the best results. Happy napping!