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How To Nap The Right Way

With increasingly hectic lifestyles that often trigger poor sleep and even sleep disorders, the concept of napping is more important than ever. Have you noticed how, on a long car drive, or on a long flight, even sleeping for 10 to 15 minutes refreshes your body significantly? It’s not just in your head, napping does have significant emotional, physical and psychological benefits that can’t be overlooked.

For some, sleep comes easily, and we remain alert throughout the day. However, for most Americans, sleep can be fleeting, and we simply don’t get enough.

The Role of a Nap

Many people think that napping is just for kids. And while most children nap in their early years, comparatively few older children and adults do so. Oftentimes this is due to conflicting activities that don’t allow us to slow down during the day. But while we can manage to get through the day in our teens and 20s, it becomes harder in our 30s and up. But there is both time and use in napping – when we do it properly.

Napping Properly

  • Find a cool (~ 68°) dark and quiet place in which to nap. Of course, with work schedules as they are, this may not always be possible, so any place that gives you 15 to 20 minutes of uninterrupted sleep will suffice.
  • Have a small, healthy lunch an hour or two before you nap. Napping on a full stomach can leave us feeling groggy. If we nap lying down too soon after a big meal, it can also promote acid reflux that can be annoying at best and sometimes even painful.
  • Eating well and avoiding high fat, high sugar foods can also balance out blood sugar levels throughout the day giving us better, more restorative sleep.
  • Don’t nap for too long. Napping for more than 20 or so minutes can leave us feeling groggy for the rest of the day or can interfere with nighttime sleep. Some suggest drinking a cup of coffee right before the nap to allow the caffeine to kick in right around the 20-minute mark. We do not suggest doing so as using stimulants to regulate your sleep defeats the point of proper, natural solutions.
  • Similarly, don’t take your nap too late in the day as it could force you to go to bed later than usual.

Napping may not always be possible, but that doesn’t mean that we should ignore the possibility of a relaxation session every day. Even if you only have a short lunch break in which to take advantage of some relaxation, studies have shown that intense relaxation can be almost as restorative as a nap in the middle of the day. Some patients even try meditation to calm and balance them for the rest of the workday and evening.

Does Being Tired During the Day I Mean I Have A Health Problem?

Not necessarily. Unfortunately, our lives have become so stressful and overfull, that being tired during the day is simply a byproduct of overworking our brains and bodies. Our hormonal levels may fluctuate significantly throughout the day and if we don’t eat properly, erratic blood sugar levels may also contribute to the general malaise.

Believe it or not, excessive tiredness can also be caused by sleeping too much. Sleeping 7 to 8 hours at night is standard for most of the general population. You may have slightly different sleep needs and your body will tell you what’s right. However, sleeping 10 to 12 hours at night is typically associated with more harm than good, giving credence to the saying… you can have too much of a good thing.

However, excessive tiredness can also be a sign of a sleep disorder, cardiovascular issues or other general health problem. If your feelings of tiredness are constant and not relieved with better lifestyle, sleep and napping habits, we suggest that you visit a trusted physician.

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