Over the course of childhood and into young adulthood, we happily toss aside life’s so-called training wheels as we develop into fully formed beings. Say the check-in text or phone call to parents when travelling alone or the bedroom nightlight. However, in the case of the nap, a routine procedure since birth, why are we so eager to grow up?
Instead of submitting to fatigue during those dangerous hours between 1 pm and 4 pm, we scroll mindlessly through social media, re-watch television shows on Netflix or stare at the ceiling. Somehow this is more productive or at least closer to productivity than submitting to sleep? No way! If anything once we finally acknowledge the time wasted, we’re both behind on our workload and guilt-ridden over our internet binge.
Napping for even 10 to 20 minutes boosts alertness, productivity and mood as well as alleviates stress. Meanwhile, if you nap as long as 90 minutes and thusly reach rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, you have the ability to improve creativity and memory.
Here are three strategies to nap like the tired human you probably are.
Set the alarm
For the unpractised nappers, choose a naptime that suits your schedule and sleep habits. The afternoon is the traditional and optimal time whether you’re an early bird or night owl, but in either case don’t nap later than 4 pm. However, if you struggle with insomnia consult with a doctor before building a nap into your routine. It may increase your difficulty falling asleep come bedtime. Once you’ve decided on a reasonable time, set an alarm for your wake-up. Don’t trust yourself to rise on time for the rest of your day. And, more importantly, whether you’re an insomniac or not, should you nap too long (i.e., more than 90 minutes) you’ll likely upset your regular night’s sleep.
Put your feet up
Create or find a spot conducive to napping. Obviously if you can pop home between afternoon classes and sleep in your own bed all the better. Change into comfortable clothes and block out any intruding sunlight or noise. You may choose to test out sleep music in order to help you relax. If you can’t make it to a bed, at least raise your feet up off the floor when sitting. Although you may eventually master effectively falling into a slumber while sitting (or maybe you’re just that tired), by raising you’re feet you should find it easier to doze off. You may experiment with a caffeine nap: drinking a cup of coffee immediately before taking a 20-minute nap. By the time you wake up, the caffeine should kick in, making you feel even more energized than as a result of sleep alone.
Try, try, try again
Should you struggle to fall asleep, don’t let it frustrate you. Even 10 minutes of rest has its own benefits. Napping need not become another stressor in your life. Help your mind slow down by closing your eyes and completing a body scan: relaxing different specific parts of your body from your feet to your head or vice versa. You can relax these body parts simply by thinking of them doing so. With patience and any necessary adjustments, you should eventually fall asleep.