How To Take the Best Nap Ever
One-third of American adults are sleeping much less than the recommended seven hours of sleep a night, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Napping could help bridge the gap, but all naps aren’t created equal.
5 Reasons Napping Is Healthy
Unplanned and unstructured napping can leave you feeling sluggish or even disrupt your sleeping patterns. On the other hand, an effective nap can boost your physical and mental health. Here’s how:
● It helps you recharge and stay alert during the day.
● It can combat fatigue and lower stress levels.
● It may improve your mood.
● It enhances your memory and performance.
● It helps you recover from sickness or injury.
Different naps suit specific needs. Some include:
● Recovery naps help with sleep deprivation.
● Essential naps help you recover from illness or injury. These naps give your immune system the energy it needs to support your healing.
● Fulfillment naps are taken by children who need to rest more frequently as they develop and grow.
● Appetitive naps are simply taken to ease stress, for enjoyment or to improve your mood.
You Snooze, You Lose
Napping at the wrong time, for too much time or without proper planning can have harmful effects. Some of these include:
● Sleep inertia, feeling disoriented, sluggish or dizzy after waking up from naps more than an hour long.
● Struggling to fall asleep at bedtime, waking up throughout the night and, in serious cases, insomnia. This is usually tied to frequent or extended napping.
5 Rules for Power Napping
Napping can help you get through overwhelming days if you plan effectively. Everyone’s nap preferences differ depending on lifestyle habits, so keep these guidelines in mind:
● Prioritize getting enough sleep each night, ideally between seven and eight hours.
● Limit the length of your nap. Naps should be no more than 20 minutes so you don’t reach REM sleep, the deep stage of sleep that can cause sleep inertia if you wake up suddenly.
● Set an alarm to help you to stick to your nap time and prevent oversleeping.
● Nap earlier in the day, before 3 p.m. if possible. Napping after that could disrupt your nighttime sleeping pattern.
● Sleep in a comfortable space that’s dark, cool and quiet.
Are You an Effective Napper?
Napping has many health benefits, but there are times when it’s especially important. If you’ve been sleep-deprived, are anticipating fewer hours of sleep (such as if you’re working a night shift) or are exhausted while doing something that requires attention such as driving, a short nap can help.
If you struggle with sleep disorders such as insomnia, frequent napping isn’t recommended. Follow expert sleeping guidelines for your age group, pay attention to your nap lengths and talk to your doctor before making changes to your sleeping patterns.
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