When you see a cat napping away the day in a sunny spot, it’s hard not to be a little jealous. For most of us, a nap is a rare luxury and one that we only have a short time to enjoy. Unfortunately, the more you want to get to sleep, the harder it can be. If that sounds familiar, there are ways to take a better cat nap on those infrequent occasions when you actually get the chance. Get to sleep sooner and stay asleep for as long as your nap allows with these tips.
You can’t will yourself to sleep, but there is a lot you can do to feel calm and relaxed around when you want to nap.
- Pick a Strategic Time – The best time to nap depends on when you last woke up. Typically, you will want to nap after about 6-7 hours, so if you work up at 7:00 AM, you would ideally want to nap around 2 PM. Keep in mind that you can nap to make up for lost sleep, or to prepare for a night when you know you won’t sleep well. If you’re napping preventatively, take a quick nap 6-7 hours before you plan to sleep for longer.
- Strive for the Afternoon – If you find yourself getting groggy in the afternoon, it’s not because you’re overworked or under-rested. The body’s natural circadian rhythms cause us to feel fatigued around mid-afternoon. In fact, there is even research suggesting that a brief afternoon nap is part of our natural programming (even if they’re not part of our natural schedule). For most people, the afternoon is both the easiest time to fall asleep and the best time to recoup some rest.
- Pick the Right Spot – If you’re able to control where you nap, make sure it’s a space conducive to sleeping in the day time. Pick a room that is dark, quiet, and cool. If you can’t find the perfect conditions, consider using an eye mask, earplugs, or a white noise machine. Beyond that, sleep as you normally would – get under a big blanket, put on a thick pair of socks, sleep on your side, whatever traditionally helps you sleep better.
- Set an Alarm – When you’re feeling especially tired, it’s too easy to fall asleep for a nap and wake up a lot later than you intended. Make sure you set an alarm before you begin winding down. Research has shown that the best naps last for 10-20 minutes. Tempting as it may be to steal another 10 minutes (or an extra hour), it won’t leave you feeling more refreshed. Naps that last longer than 20 minutes can put you into a deep sleep that’s harder to wake from, leaves you feeling groggy, and contributes to reduced performance after napping.
- Grab a Post-Nap Coffee – Drinking some caffeine in the form of coffee, tea, or an energy drink soon when you wake up can increase the feeling of alertness and attention you feel after a good nap. You might even consider drinking your caffeine before you try to nap. It takes around 20 minutes for the effects of caffeine to kick in. So if you’re able to finish your coffee, get straight to sleep, and wake up at your alarm, you might feel especially energized right as you wake up. Consider this next-level napping.
We can be our own worst enemies when it comes to sleep. Make sure you don’t do these things as you’re trying to nap:
- Force Sleep to Come – For some people, it’s a real challenge to nap successfully. If you’re one of those people and none of the tips above seem to help, don’t force the issue. Try to get better sleep at night, and make sure you’re drinking plenty of water and getting some physical activity during the day. There are other ways to fight fatigue besides lying down for a nap where you’ll never fall asleep.
- Depend Entirely on Naps – Some people have to nap as part of their sleep routine. For most of us, though, it’s an occasional occurrence. If you find yourself napping more than usual, or wanting to because of routine fatigue, it could be a sign you’re not sleeping well at night. You also shouldn’t try to rely on naps as a cure for insomnia. For optimal physical and mental health, you should ideally get 8 hours of sustained sleep each night. If you’re not, it could be a sign your mattress is worn out, or your nightly sleep routine needs adjustment.
- Pick the Worst Times – If you drank a big cup of coffee an hour ago, it’s going to be a lot harder to nap. Try to plan when, where, and how you’ll take a nap at least a few hours in advance. You should also avoid napping in places like public transportation or your job (unless this perk happens to be allowed in your workplace). If you have kids or others around your house, let them know you’re trying to nap so you won’t be disturbed.
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Maybe you want to nap more or less. Either way, you might need a new mattress. Daytime fatigue is a strong sign you’re not sleeping enough at night, possibly because your mattress is past its prime. If you’re struggling to nap, it could also be because your mattress is uncomfortable. Visit one of the 38 Sit n’ Sleep superstores around Southern California to experience what a brand-new mattress engineered to your sleep style feels like. They’re more comfortable than you can believe at a price lower than you would ever expect. Find a store near you or explore our website for more information. If you have questions about anything along the way, please call us at 800-908-0354.