(AscendHealthy.com) – Remember nap time in preschool? We kept our mats and pillows in cubicles marked with our names, then happily plopped our belongings and our little bodies by our best friends to snooze.
Somewhere between the graham-crackers-and-milk snack that followed nap time and elementary school, we learned that napping was for little kids. But could that lesson be wrong? Learn how to reap the rewards of napping below.
Why Nap? Don’t Snooze Through the Benefits
Researchers have discovered many benefits of napping for healthy adults. The rewards, which are both physical and mental, include:
- An improvement in our reaction times and alertness.
- Less daytime sleepiness.
- An increase in our energy levels.
- Better mental clarity.
- Improved coordination.
- A boost in our creativity.
- A decrease in our stress levels.
- An increase in our memory.
Taking a nap also may improve our mood. By relaxing for a short sleep period during the day, we may awaken feeling refreshed both mentally and physically.
When to Nap: Timing Is Everything
Now that we’re feeling motivated to practice the art of napping, let’s consider the best time and ideal length of a nap:
- In general, early afternoon naps offer the most benefits.
- Less is more, with naps of 10 to 20 minutes seen as the ideal.
- Avoid naps after 3 p.m. to prevent problems with bedtime sleep schedules.
- Tip: If you like an afternoon coffee energizer, enjoy your java just before you nap so caffeine takes effect as you awaken.
Where to Nap (Shhhh!)
Kids home from school, kittens meowing, and television blaring: Doesn’t sound like a very soothing environment, does it? But napping somewhere quiet without interruptions plays a key role in reaping the rewards.
Getting everyone on board the nap train may take some time and, ahem, bribes (hello, sound-proof headphones and cat treats). We can then create a nap environment that helps us snooze:
- Darken the room.
- Adjust the temperature so that you feel comfortable.
- Keep the environment quiet, turning off all electronics.
From boosting our creativity to improving our memory, scheduling regular naps offers many rewards. We’re in good company for our naps: Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, and Thomas Edison were expert power nappers.
It’s important to understand that needing to nap frequently throughout the day, the inability to remain awake or constantly feeling sleepy might signal a sleep problem. Talk to your healthcare provider for help. Otherwise, 40 winks might do us all some good.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension
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