There are so many things that make naps nice. It can be a way to warm up and get cozy on a cool afternoon, recharge for an upcoming event, or recharge after a long night.
One thing is for sure: naps are popular. Many of us take naps, and they can have some benefits. But not all naps are created equal, and some of you might not even be doing it right.
Here’s how to determine a good nap from a bad one and what you can do to have the best rest possible.
There are a few different types of “good nap.” These naps typically serve a worthwhile purpose, like helping you recover from a late night or an interrupted sleep. Sometimes you may want to take a nap to help you prepare for some sleep loss.
Other good reasons for a nap include the sheer enjoyment of it, knowing you’ll wake up in a good mood with some more energy, or when you need it for recovery. For example, if you’re sick, you need sleep because your immune system is working hard to get you healthy.
The ideal nap is generally in the 10-20 minute range. Shorter than that, and you likely won’t get much benefit, and longer than that, and you end up waking up tired and groggy. The only real exception to the rule is if you’re taking an “essential nap” to fight an illness.
You’ll also want to make sure you’re napping at the right time. Heading down for a nap in the late afternoon or early evening can end up messing with your big sleep.
Naps can be harmful when they interfere with your ability to fall asleep or stay asleep. If they are done regularly and for longer than 30 minutes, they may also signify a larger health problem like diabetes, heart disease, or depression. Long naps my also indicate poor quality nighttime sleep.
So, how can you set yourself up for a successful nap? Here’s a quick checklist:
- Set a timer
- Nap early in the day
- Do it in a comfortable and sleep-friendly space
- Relax before you start
- Pay attention to how you feel both before and after the nap