What Is The Best Time For A Nap?
A nap can be refreshing and that’s why it is a favorite part of the day for many. But it can disturb the good night’s sleep and make you feel groggy. So the question arises what is the best time for a nap?
There are many people for whom naps are an essential part of their daily routine. Approximately 30% of people nap regularly, and at least as many occasionally. Doctors and sleep experts have never been able to reach a consensus on this topic. That’s why it’s mostly left to people to decide for themselves whether to nap or not.
You need to differentiate nap and sleep. Nap lasts a short time and after waking up you should feel refreshed, ready for your duties right away. Longer naps can also be useful in certain situations, but after longer naps you will feel like when you wake up in the morning and you will need time to regain mental clarity and energy.
With the help of The Sleep Advisors, you will find out how long a nap should last, what are the pros and cons, as well as what is the best time for a nap.
When do I need a nap time?
If you enjoy an afternoon nap, there is no reason to deprive yourself of that pleasure. Also, if that is not your cup of tea, you don’t have to force yourself to sleep during the day. But there are certain situations when an afternoon nap is recommended to everyone in order to rest better.
Remote work, which became especially popular during the pandemic, gave us the opportunity to relax in the middle of the day by resting for a few dozen minutes. Many companies have also implemented quite rooms and beds so that workers can take a nap. You are going to be more relaxed after rest for sure.
One of the very obvious benefits of napping is reduced fatigue. Already after several hours of demanding mental and physical work, you will feel tired. And the end of working hours is not near. Some will opt for a coffee nap, but sleeping is certainly a healthier option.
It has been proven that only 20 minutes of sleep significantly increases our alertness. Those who nap show significantly better performance after, so nap is recommended even in extreme situations, for example to astronauts or soldiers. When alertness drops, the possibility of an injury at work or a mistake increases.
Get in the mood
It’s completely normal to be moody when you are tired. So a nap will help you get in the mood. After sleeping, you will be cheerful and ready for the rest of the day. When you wake up, you can drink coffee since caffeine will give you a quick energy boost. Of course, only drink coffee if it’s not later than 3 or 4 PM.
Paying (a bit of) a sleep debt
After failing to sleep enough for a few days in a row, something called sleep debt arises. Every minute you don’t sleep is added to the already existing sleep debt. If you ignore it and do not work on recovery, you can experience very serious health consequences. When you start recover from sleep deprivation, and it is certain that this will happen to you at least several times in your life, naps are very useful.
What are the cons of nap?
Afternoon nap has certain downsides. While practically every infant and toddler sleeps during the day, as children grow, they sleep less and less, and when you grow up, the number of people who sleep during the day is even smaller. Those who don’t like naps can certainly relate to at least one of the following two problems.
Most people find it much harder to overcome sleep inertia after an afternoon nap than after a nighttime sleep. The exact reason is not known, but it probably has something to do with circadian rhythms. Sleep inertia is the drowsiness you feel after waking up. If the brain fog lasts longer than normal, then you may have a more severe form of sleep inertia. Although not dangerous per se, sleep inertia can affect the daily schedule.
Disrupting night time sleep pattern
The main reason why you should not sleep for several hours during the day is the possibility of disrupting the night time sleep cycle. It is very important that you go to bed at the same time every day. This is how a healthy habit is created. When night falls, the secretion of melatonin increases and that is the ideal time to start preparing for sleep. But if the nap lasted too long, you’ll stay up until 1 AM or later, disturb sleep schedule leading to a vicious circle.
How to take a nap properly?
Naps are not equally effective in different environments. When you are surrounded by noise and light, you may feel drowsy after waking up. But when you are in the proper sleep environment, then the nap is perfectly useful for your mind and body. If you follow our advice, you can be sure that you will take a nap properly.
Lower the room temperature
It is easier to fall asleep in colder room. Not only that, but it is also healthier to sleep in a cooler room. We are not implying that it should be cold in the bedroom like in an igloo, but before you fall asleep, try to lower the air temperature in the room. Use the air conditioner or let fresh air in.
Turn off all the electronics
In the evening, all devices should be turned off so that blue light does not interfere with the secretion of the sleep hormone, melatonin. Although the body will not secrete melatonin before a nap, you should certainly leave your smartphone and laptop at least half an hour before you intend to fall asleep. That way you will avoid overstimulating the brain.
Keep the power naps short
We have repeated importance of short naps several times so far, but we have to emphasize it once again. Most of the times, keep nap short and you will avoid all the downsides. If you are sleep deprived or recovering from many sleepless nights, sleep as much as you want. In other cases, turn the alarm clock.
Have a pleasant sleeping environment
You can’t have a pleasant sleeping environment without a suitable mattress and pillow. But you probably already know that. What many often forget is the other things that make up the sleeping environment. These are, for example, blackout curtains that guarantee complete darkness, and also make the bedroom quieter. Then consider lighting – whether you need small bedroom lighting, wall lights or some other option, try to fit everything perfectly. There are so many ideas for bedroom, it won’t be hard.
Wake up slowly & take your time
Try to avoid waking up like you’re in the military. Always give yourself at least 5 or 10 minutes to slowly wake up. Then get up, splash your face with cold water, brush your teeth and eat nuts or dark chocolate, in accordance with sleep doctor’s diet plan. Sleep inertia won’t be a problem anymore and you won’t be grumpy.
So - what is the best time for a nap?
It depends. But it certainly makes the most sense for the afternoon nap to be after lunch, that is around 2 PM (early afternoon). Of course, not everyone can afford to rest at that time of day, but then choose the time that suits you best.
If you don’t have time for a nap before 5 PM, then it’s better to wait for the evening and go to bed earlier. The situation can be completely different when we talk about shift work. If you are going to work all night, then it certainly makes sense to take a nap before the start of your shift and then you will be rested for most of the night.
Adjust naps to your daily schedule, taking care not to interfere with full night’s sleep. You don’t need sleep medicine, just a good schedule.