When you hear the word “napping” or phrase “nap time” it’s hard to not instantly think of children. However, napping can be great for adults as long as you know what you are doing. Below, we breakdown the who, what, where and why of napping for adults so that you can take naps that help you, rather than hurt you.
Dos and Donts of Napping
Do keep your naps short. Try to aim for 10–20-minute naps to avoid feeling groggy the rest of the day. Remember, the goal is to get a boost of energy, not make yourself even more tired.
Don’t take naps late in the day. If you take a nap after 3pm, you run the risk of disturbing your sleep cycle at night thus exacerbating your exhaustion further.
Do take into account individual factors that will help you make the best decisions concerning napping for you. Weighing your need for sleep, schedule, age, and medications can all be determining factors for when, if and how long you need to nap.
Don’t ignore potential signs of a bigger problem than exhaustion. If you find yourself increasingly relying on naps to make it through the day with no obvious reasons for the fatigue it is important you talk to your doctor. You could be experiencing an adverse reaction to a medication, a sleeping disorder, or some other medical issue that needs addressing over a nap.
Do take time to find and create a peaceful environment. The sole purpose of taking a nap is to recharge so it’s counterproductive if you are trying to rest in a chaotic space. Make sure you pick a quiet, dark space that is comfortable to you with minimal distractions in order to get the most bang for your napping buck.
Don’t rush back into activities after waking up from a nap. Give yourself some time to work back into a groove. Anything that requires a quick, sharp response needs to be put off until you are fully awake.
You Should Consider Naps When…
You feel fatigued or sleepy and don’t normally feel that way.
You are about to take a sleep loss due to travel or work.
You desire to make napping part of your daily schedule.
Potential Risks/Downsides of Napping
Problems sleeping later at night. As long as you keep your naps short this shouldn’t be a problem for you, however, if you are someone who tends to experience insomnia it might be better to skip the nap. It could potentially worsen your sleeping issues.
If you nap, you may run the risk of being groggy and disoriented—something known as sleep inertia.
You simply may not be able to nap no matter how good it sounds. There are some people who can’t fall asleep during the day or have problems sleeping somewhere besides their own space/bed.
The Upsides of Napping
You may feel more relaxed.
Your fatigue level might go down.
Your alertness may increase.
You might be in a better mood.
General improvements in performance and memory.