Sleep Tips

Lazy Summer Days: How To Take A Better Nap

How To Add A Summer Power Nap To Your Schedule

For many people, summer is prime napping season. The days are longer and there is more opportunity for vacation and rest. But, when you feel drowsy after lunch, is it better to take a quick nap or to grab another cup of coffee as you promise yourself you'll start going to bed earlier? Dr. William C. Kohler, medical director of the Florida Sleep Institute in Spring Hill, Fl., said a 10-to 20- minute power nap can be very beneficial. "Napping is a good idea if it's done early enough in the afternoon and it's short," he said. "If the nap is too long, you'll end up groggy and defeat the purpose of the nap. If it's too close to bedtime it will interfere with getting to sleep."

Power Naps Improve Your Mood & Reduce Stress

People who nap during the day will find themselves in good company. According to the National Sleep Foundation, Albert Einstein, John F. Kennedy, Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill and George W. Bush recognized the importance of an afternoon nap. Napping can increase your alertness, improve your mood and help reduce stress, all of which can lead to fewer mistakes and better overall work performance. There's even a National Napping Day, established in 1999 by Boston University professor William Anthony, PhD., and his wife Camille and celebrated on the first Monday after Daylight Saving Time, to promote all the benefits an afternoon snooze provides.

Before Adding A Summer Nap To Your Routine

But before you add a power nap to your daily "to do" list, here are some points to consider:

  1. Has Your Sleep Pattern Changed?

    Is your daytime drowsiness a symptom of an underlying health problem? A sudden, unexplained increase in fatigue could be a symptom of an illness or a sleeping disorder, which recommends seeking the advice of a physician if there is a noticeable change in sleep patterns.

  2. Why Exactly Are You Summer Power Napping?

    The National Sleep Foundation points out that there are different reasons for taking naps, as well as different napping styles.

    • Your nap could be a planned or preparatory nap, which is useful if you know your will be staying up late or changing shifts at work.
    • An emergency nap should be taken when you are too tired to function properly. It's particularly important to take an emergency nap if you become drowsy while operating equipment or while driving.
    • A habitual nap occurs at the same time each day, and is more widely used by young children and older adults.
  3. Drawbacks To Summer Power Napping

    • Sleep inertia, or feeling groggy and disoriented, upon waking up. This can occur when the nap is too long, usually more than 30 minutes
    • Poor quality sleep at night, which also is more likely to happen when the daytime nap is too long or taken too late in the afternoon
    • Feeling guilty about wasting time and fearing the stigma of being considered lazy are concerns for nap-takers
    • Education about the benefits of napping and the importance of getting enough sleep help combat these concerns
  4. Getting The Most Out Of Your Power Nap

    Regular power-napping can be good solution for busy people who don't always get eight hours of sleep every night. Here are few tips to help you get the most from your nap:

    • If possible, take your power nap at the same time each day.
    • Nap in as dark a room as possible. Use an eye mask if necessary.
    • A quiet place is best for a nap. A white noise machine can help block out sounds.
    • If the room is cool, keep a blanket handy.

A brief period of slumber during the day can help refresh and reenergize you, but it's also important to get eight hours of uninterrupted sleep each night on a comfortable mattress that's designed for maximum support.

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