It isn't just young children who can benefit from naps. Adults can, too. The Spanish cultures know this and most generally still abide by siestas so that individuals can have an early afternoon rest. However, most other cultures view naps as an indulgence or a treat. Yet, research is showing that naps can be beneficial. They go far in alleviating stress and afternoon sleepiness, and they jump-start the brain and improve productivity and memory.
How and When to Nap
If you are able to take time out for a nap, treat it like you would nighttime sleep and follow good sleep practices. This means you do what is necessary to ensure that your environment is setup for a daytime sleep. This means adjusting room temperature, eliminating as much noise as possible, reducing light, and so on.
It is advised that if you do nap that you do so at the same time each day. The hours of 1pm to 3pm are generally the best time to nap, as it does not tend to interfere with nighttime sleeping. Avoid late afternoon napping. If you do find that napping is interfering with your nighttime sleep schedule, take your nap earlier in the day.
How Long to Nap
Many people say power naps of 15 to 20 minutes is all that is needed to recharge the body and mind. However, while a short power nap is better than no nap, the brain generally needs 30 to 60 minutes to recharge and refresh. Naps of this length enable the body to go into slow-wave sleep. This stage of sleep enhances the memory and decision-making skills. However, if you do opt for this longer nap and you find that it is interfering with your nighttime sleep schedule, shorten it.
You should know that the longer the nap, the groggier you will feel upon waking. Schedule yourself enough time to wake-up properly before you are required to pick up your day where you left it off.
How Much Sleep Do You Need?
The amount of total sleep that a person needs is dependent upon many factors such as age, genetics, lifestyle, health, and more. Your body will tell you if you need to sleep. While there is no magic number of hours that people should sleep, there are general guidelines you can go by.
School age children and teenagers need 9 to 11 hours of sleep and adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Older adults generally need as much sleep as teens. However, as people age sleep generally becomes lighter and it may not occur all at once.
If you have been sleep deprived due to work or a personal issue, or you are ill or recovering from an illness, more sleep will be needed. As stated, your body will tell you if you need more sleep. Don't ignore what it is telling you.
If you are sleeping at night and taking a nap during the day, yet you still feel very fatigued or sleepy, you may want to see a physician. You may have an underlying health problem, or you may not be obtaining quality sleep when you do sleep. This is something you can discuss with your health care provider.
If sleep is still a problem for you, consider enrolling in my free online sleep training course.