Napping

Protect-A-Bed Blog - Napping

 

If you are finding yourself feeling tired and sleepy during the day a nap may be beneficial.  Reducing fatigue, increasing alertness, improving your mood, performance and reaction time.

A nap may also help you prepare for and be able to better cope with a late night out, shift work or a long drive.

As recognised by the Sleep Health Foundation of Australia 

"Naps can also be good at times when you feel sleepy and you are worried about how well you can do things if you continue without rest. If you feel drowsy during a long drive in the car, a short nap can be taken in a rest area. This will make you more alert during the next phase of the drive.

Some studies have found that if you start to feel sleepy while driving, it helps to have a cup of coffee, immediately followed by a nap of about 15 minutes. The caffeine takes about 30 minutes to start working so when you wake up both the nap and the caffeine will start to make you feel more alert."

How long to nap for

The secret to waking up refreshed from a nap is setting an alarm and making sure you don’t nap for too long. 

Ideally a nap should only be 15-30 minutes long.  This will ensure that when you wake you are still in the lightest stage of non-REM sleep.   Any longer, where you enter the deeper stages of sleep you risk waking up with what is known as sleep inertia.  Feeling groggy and perhaps more tired and with less energy than before your nap.

However “If you’re lucky enough to be able to lie down for 90 minutes, your body should have time to make it through one complete sleep cycle where you go from the lightest stage through the deepest stage of sleep and back again, so you’ll wake feeling refreshed.”- sleep.org

 How you can make your nap better

  • Be sure to set an alarm so you are not napping for more than 30 minutes.
  • Nap in a quiet, dark place at a comfortable temperature without any noise or distractions

“A cool 16-18°C (60-65°F) is thought to be an ideal temperature in a bedroom. Temperatures over 24°C (71°F) are likely to cause restlessness, while a cold room of about 12°C (53°F) will make it difficult to drop off.”  - Sleep Council UK 

  • If you are napping regularly try and nap at the same time each day.
  • 2-3pm may be the ideal time to nap. We often feel most sleepy in the early afternoon as it matches a low point in our bodies circadian rhythm.
  • If taking a nap in your car, ensure you are in a safe place

And if napping regularly

Be mindful to remember that a nap does not replace a good night’s sleep.  A nap too late in the day may make it harder to fall asleep at night. And if you find that you are relying on naps during the day or you are not able to sleep at night due to naps talk to your doctor.