When it comes to professional napping, no one does it better than the koala.
The koala sleeps on average 18-20 hours per day and although us humans don’t have that same luxury, there are things that this Australian marsupial can teach us.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average adult should get anywhere from seven to nine hours of sleep per night, but for many of us this is not always possible.
Sleep deprivation can lead to many health complications, however taking a nap could be the perfect cure.
Experts have discovered that taking a short snooze during the day could even be more effective than a cup of coffee and can help to
• Counter the effects of sleep deprivation
• Reduce stress and anxiety
• Help promote calmness and balanced emotional health
• Boost your energy levels
• Increase productivity
• Enhance cognitive function
• Promote overall health
In fact, there are so many benefits to napping that some businesses have now offered their staff napping rooms and sleeping pods to boost productivity and focus throughout the day.
When it comes to napping however, there is an art form to getting it right. Too long of a nap can lead you to feel groggy and too short of a nap may enhance your initial feelings of tiredness.
Napping is really a skill, and there are some essential rules to follow if you are looking to wake up feeling refreshed and full of energy.
Rule #1: Choose the Perfect Napping Time
Unfortunately for us, we can’t get away with napping like the koala does, however napping for 10 to 90 minutes is generally considered to be ideal.
The length you choose to nap will depend on the outcome you are looking to achieve-
10 to 20 minute nap: is excellent for boosting energy and alertness and won’t leave you with a groggy feeling due to the fact that it is such a short time frame. This is the perfect nap to take if you are looking to recharge your batteries and even relieve some stress. It is also a great nap to take if you are driving long distances and are in need of a quick pick-me-up.
26 minute nap: research from NASA found that a precisely timed 26-minute nap was able to enhance performance by 34 percent and improve overall alertness by 54 percent. According to the research, a 26-minute nap is considered the most optimal time, however you may have to test this theory to see if it suits your body and its individual needs.
30 minute nap: if you are feeling very tired and drowsy, a 30-minute nap may be the way to go. This nap is especially beneficial if you received less than 5 hours sleep the night before or if your sleep was interrupted. After a 30-minute nap you may still feel groggy after waking, however these effects won’t last long and within an hour or so you will be feeling alert and focused.
60 minute nap: if you are really looking to help boost your cognitive function and mental focus, a 60-minute nap is the best option. This nap is perfect for students who have spent the night studying, or if you need to get your energy back so you can do something that requires a lot of attention to detail. When you first wake from your 60-minute nap, you will feel groggy, but after that feeling subsides you will feel full of energy and ready to focus and work hard.
90 minute nap: when you sleep for 90 minutes you will enter into a full cycle of sleep which will help you to feel rested and bright upon awakening. Unlike the 30-60 minute naps, a 90-minute nap won’t make you feel groggy upon awakening and instead, will help you to feel calm and at ease. This length of nap is perfect for those feeling stressed or overly emotional, and those looking to enhance their memory and alertness. This length of nap is perfect for those who received a poor night’s sleep or are perhaps recovering from an illness.
Caffeine Nap: this is by far one of the most effective napping techniques for those looking to counter the effects of a poor night’s sleep and wake up feeling refreshed in as little time as possible. To take a caffeine nap, all you have to do is quickly drink a cup of coffee before taking a 30-minute nap. The caffeine will take at least 25-30 minutes to kick in which means that when you wake, you will skip that groggy feeling and feel good for hours to come.
Rule #2: Set the Perfect Napping Conditions
If you are like a koala, you can fall asleep in almost any position, but if you are like the majority of the population, your napping environment needs to be ideal in order to be effective.
The perfect napping environment involves-
• Napping lying down: you only have a few precious minutes to nap, and trying to nap upright can make it 50 percent harder to fall asleep. Science has found that the optimal position is lying down with your head slightly propped upright.
• Napping in a dark space: napping during the day can be difficult if the sun is beaming down on your face. For optimal conditions, be sure that the curtains are closed and you are in the dark as much as possible. You may also want to try using a sleep mask.
• Napping in a quiet space: it is important to nap where you can’t be disturbed by loud sounds or noises. In fact, during your nap try to keep all technology out of the room so you can’t be distracted.
• Setting a gentle alarm: for your nap to be effective you have to set an alarm and stick to it. Try choosing a gentle, soothing alarm to wake up to, rather than a harsh sound.
• Not being too hot or too cold: feeling too cold when you nap can make it harder to fall asleep, whereas feeling too hot can make it harder to wake up. It is best to nap in a slightly cool environment with a light blanket. You may want to ensure that the room is well ventilated as well, as this can help reduce any groggy feelings.
Rule #3: Take a Walk Before You Nap
Do you commonly feel a drop in your energy levels after lunch?
This is a common feeling that most of us experience from time to time, but experts have discovered two possible solutions-
1. Taking a walk
2. Taking a nap
If you achieved less than 5 hours sleep the night before, napping may be the way to go, but if you are simply feeling tired or low in energy, taking a 15-minute walk may be just as beneficial.
Research has found that a 15-minute walk can be as effective as a nap in some cases. This is due to the fact that after lunch your body temperature drops, which signals your brain to produce melatonin, the hormone that is responsible for feelings of sleepiness.
Taking a walk out in the sunshine and getting some fresh air can counteract the effects of melatonin and can be quicker than having a nap.
To get the most benefits out of your nap, try taking a 15-minute walk before. If that doesn’t do the trick, you nap will be far more restful and effective.
Rule #4: Avoid Napping if You Suffer From Insomnia
Naps are great for those who are sleep deprived, but if you suffer from insomnia, napping could worsen your symptoms and make it even harder to fall asleep at night.
Research has also found that if insomniacs avoid taking a nap, they will find it easier to fall asleep at night and improve their overall sleep cycle.
According to sleep expert, Michael Breus- “if you have insomnia, you don’t want to be a napper because there is data that shows that the last time you were asleep will directly affect how long it takes you to fall asleep. So, if you are asleep taking a nap at 2pm, it is going to take you a much longer period of time to fall asleep.”
If you are an insomniac and feeling tired throughout the day, try taking a walk in the fresh air or doing some exercise to help perk up your energy levels. This will ensure that you give yourself the best possible opportunity to sleep at night.
Rule #5: Don’t Nap After 4pm
The optimal time to nap is between 12-4pm, anything after that and you risk not being able to fall asleep at night.
Napping between 12-4pm is also the most optimal time according to your body’s natural circadian cycle as well, so try sticking to this timeframe.
For even better results, nap between 1-3pm when the body naturally feels the most tired.
By following these five rules, you will be able to experience the benefits that come from napping.
It may also help to know that if you are a regular napper, you are in good company.
Plenty of famous and very successful people are advocators of taking naps, including Leonardo da Vinci, Bill Clinton, John F. Kennedy and even, Kim Kardashian.
So, while we may not be able to sleep 18-20 hours like the koala, we can experience the blissful benefits of sleep with a quick nap.
Sweet dreams, Koalas.