Nap It Off

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If you're like me, you hit the snooze button three times before actually getting out of bed in the morning. Apparently, mixing up your afternoon schedule can help... Recent findings from the Pew Research Center’s Social and Demographic Trends Survey show that roughly a third of Americans take naps during the day. And though there’s been work done on the health benefits that come with getting some zzz’s in the afternoon, this is one of few statistics that show the prevalence of naps among the population.

So why does napping feel so good, especially right after lunch? Our bodies are naturally timed through circadian rhythms to feel drowsy right around 2 p.m., which explains the food-coma state. But contrary to some belief that taking naps are a waste of time, or that they will mess up your nighttime rest, a nap can be a good way to re-energize and come back sharper, more alert and more engaged. And while a nap can be refreshing, it can also leave you drowsy for a prolonged period afterward. This is referred to as sleep inertia, when our bodies haven’t quite woken up fully.

To get the most out of your afternoon snooze and wake up a sleeping beauty, follow these suggestions:

  1. Consistency. Adjusting your body to a napping schedule instead of sporadically konking out in the afternoons can prevent disruption of your nighttime sleep. Pick a comfortable spot, set a time and give yourself a sufficient boost for the rest of the day.
  2. Short and sweet. Keep your naps under 30 minutes, if possible. This will help you stay away from sleep inertia and becoming more tired than you were to begin with.
  3. Don’t fight it. Listen to your body when it wants rest. Trying to power through a drowsy state can be detrimental to the quality of your work and attention. Take some time to nap so you can come back stronger later.

Sweet dreams!

Photo credit: Pimoo via Flickr