9 Tips For Taking The Perfect Nap, According To Experts
If you're feeling extra sleepy today, you should probably take a nap. Like, right now, to be exact. Not just because naps are awesome, but because it's National Napping Day! And the only way to properly celebrate such an important day is to do the one thing that many of us are truly great at: nap, of course.
Falling on the Monday after daylight savings every year, National Napping Day is that one day a year when people across the country come together to honor one of the greatest past times in the history of humankind. Like National Pizza Day and National Pancake Day, National Napping Day is a holiday that should be celebrated and celebrated to the fullest extent.
"Taking a nap is the perfect way to hit the refresh button on your day," Dr. Will Cole, leading functional medicine expert and author of the upcoming book Ketotarian, tells Bustle. "However, we are all familiar with the grogginess that can happen after a poor quality nap. So to really get the full benefits of a mid-day snooze make sure you are promoting an optimal nap time environment."
But while napping can be easy for many, having the perfect nap requires a bit more effort. Here are nine tips for having the perfect nap, according to experts.
1. Keep Your Nap Short
There's nothing worse than waking up from a nap feeling groggy, confused, and maybe even regretting that nap in the first place. Because of this, you want to be aware of just how long you nap so you don't overdo it or under do it.
"Either less than 25 minutes or for a full 90 minutes," The Sleep Doctor, Michael J. Breus, Ph.D, tells Bustle. "This is because you want to either wake up before you enter deep sleep (under 25 minutes) or you want to cycle all the way back to light wave sleep (90 minutes) to wake up feeling energized and more focused."
2. Make The Room As Dark As Possible
If you're someone who can sleep in broad daylight, then that's great! But you should know that while you may be able to pull this off, you're not getting the best possible nap you can.
"You want your napping room as dark as possible," Dr. Lyndsay von Miller, DACM, and Licensed Acupuncturist, tells Bustle. "This includes turning off lights from computer screens, too. Light sends our brain signals to start firing, preventing a deep sleep."
3. Prep For Your Nap At Least 30 Minutes In Advance
"Before your nap avoid looking at your phone, TV, or computer for at least 30 minutes to two hours beforehand," says Dr. Cole. "If that's not possible, blue-light blocking amber tinted glasses can reduce their stimulating effects."
Although the thought of disconnecting for — gasp — up to two hours before your nap might seem daunting, when you're trying to reach perfection, you have to make some sacrifices.
4. Integrate Some White Noise
Even if you don't live in a city like New York where you're inundated with sirens 24/7, white noise is magical when it comes to napping. When it comes to both napping and sleeping at night, my white noise is my best friend.
"Using a white noise machine is a great way to lull and unfocus your thoughts, so you can drift off," says Dr. von Miller. "I like to layer a white noise machine with super chill music like Mogwai or Sigur Ros, or sometimes meditation bells."
5. Meditate Beforehand
"A few minutes of meditation before your nap can also work to calm your mind and make falling and staying asleep a lot easier," says Dr. Cole. But if you're someone who struggles to shut off your brain and meditate, then there are meditation apps that will definitely help you get to that place of total zen.
6. Choose The Right Time Of Day
"Typically, the best time to nap is seven hours after waking up in the morning," says Dr. Breus. "But, with most things, there is not a one-size-fits-all. It all depends on your biological clock or what I refer to as a chronotype. You can take this simple quiz to find out your chronotype and read about when the best time to take a nap is. For example, if you're a wolf or a dolphin, it's not recommended to nap."
Understanding your body more will give you the opportunity to decide when is the best time for you to nap. And, if that time is 2 p.m. every day, then you might want to invest in setting up a napping station under your desk, a la George Constanza.
7. Make Sure You Won't Have Any Interruptions
In addition to dark a room, Dr. Cole says you want to make sure there's no chance of getting woken up while you're trying to nap. There's nothing worse than trying to fall asleep or being asleep, and being woken up someone, something, or anything at all. Ideal napping rooms should probably have a lock.
8. Consider An Acu-Nap
If you've yet to try acupuncture as a way to destress, relax, and find your inner peace, I highly recommend it. I also highly recommend letting yourself doze off during your session.
"A short nap on the acupuncture table is incredibly deep and relaxing, even more than hitting your own bed for a catnap," says Dr. von Miller. "The needles are doing their work and the patient's rest is a very deep rest, even if they don't fall entirely asleep. Neurologists say the freest flow of ideas come when you are in the theta brain wave state, which is commonly reached during an acu-nap."
9. Know That Napping Doesn't Always Help
While naps can feel amazing, especially if you're in need a pick-me-up late in the day, according to Dr. Breus, napping isn't for everyone. For example, people with depression or insomnia should avoid napping.
"People with insomnia have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep at night, and likely have disrupted circadian rhythms,” says. Dr. Breus. “If you suffer from insomnia, you might be particularly tempted to nap during the day to make up on the sleep you missed out on the night before. But a daytime nap will decrease the pressure and need for sleep at night and prolong or exacerbate your insomnia.
“Depression and other mood disorders are frequently linked to sleep problems, including circadian rhythm disruptions, poor quality nighttime sleep, and unhealthful sleep patterns, including excessive daytime sleepiness. Napping can make these sleep issues — and depression itself — worse."
Dr. Breus also points out that most people shouldn't need a nap if they're sleeping well enough on an nightly basis. But, while that might be true, on this National Napping Day, whether you slept well or not, it's understandable if you want to celebrate the day with a nap anyway. Just like on National Pizza Day, you should probably celebrate with a pizza — a pizza you have zero intention of sharing, of course.