Many people daydream about what they will do when they retire, and one common theme is getting to take naps. You might find, however, that taking that siesta can leave you tired for the rest of the day or unable to sleep at night. Researchers have found that napping the right way can improve your productivity and health. If you find yourself dragging through the afternoon or evening, whether you are retired yet or still working, you might want to learn how taking a nap can help you keep up with the grandkids.
Why People Need Naps
The University of Arizona College of Medicine’s Sleep and Health Research Program says that 36 percent of us between the ages of 55 and 64 get less than seven hours of sleep at night. Quality sleep can become elusive as we age, due to physical discomfort, the need to use the toilet and other causes. Although a nap will not entirely make up for lost nighttime sleep, a few zzzs in the afternoon can help get you through the day. A rest can reduce your fatigue and boost your brain’s ability to function.
Many people get a little drowsy after lunchtime. Several different factors can cause this feeling, like blood sugar, metabolism and hormones. A quick nap can make you feel more alert and less fuzzy-headed.
How to Craft the Optimal Nap
Sleep experts offer suggestions for achieving the best possible afternoon snooze. Ideally, you should lie down at some point between 1:00 and 3:00 pm. Later than 3:00 pm can interrupt your bedtime sleep cycle and make it hard for you to fall asleep at night. Earlier than 1:00 pm can leave you with too many hours left in the day, and you might get wiped out again.
You should only sleep for between 10 to 30 minutes. Set an alarm so you do not sleep longer than 30 minutes. You might feel groggy, if you enter deeper sleep during your nap. Allow enough time for you to fall asleep plus the 10 to 30 minutes of sleep when you set your alarm. It would be disappointing to set an alarm that goes off just a few minutes after you fell asleep.
Use caffeine to your advantage. Caffeine tends to take effect about 30 minutes after you consume it. If you drink a cup of coffee or tea right before you lie down for your nap, the caffeine will be in full force when it is time for you get up and attack the afternoon, enhancing the effects of your rest.
Choose your nap spot well. Our natural circadian rhythms prefer darkness for sleep. Try to rest in a room in which you can turn off the lights and draw the light-blocking curtains. A cool room is more conducive to a quick nap than a warm area. Other than white noise, minimize the noise in your ideal nap room.
You can boost your memory, mood, and brainpower with a well-designed nap strategy. And you just might be able to wear out the grandkids.
AARP. “Anatomy of the Perfect Nap (and how it can boost your performance).” (accessed September 14, 2019) https://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-2019/design-perfect-naps.html