Some people turn their noses up at napping. They might claim naps are reserved for babies, toddlers, the overworked, or the chronically lazy. But in fact, people from all walks of life enjoy catnaps. Some people nap on occasion, when their body craves a little extra rest, while others make it a part of their daily routine. Some notable nappers in history include Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill, and former Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. So if you want to nap, don’t feel bad about it! Learn how to nap the right way, and appreciate all the wonderful benefits of napping.
Benefits of Napping
Whether you call it a nap, a siesta, or a power snooze, a nap can be enormously beneficial for some people. Although they can’t make up for poor sleep at night, brief naps can be powerful. Let’s explore some of the benefits of napping:
- Memory Boost: Napping can help you remember things you learned earlier in the day. It can also prevent you from forgetting certain skills and help with verbal recall (source).
- Improved Performance: Napping can boost your performance, helping you achieve quicker reaction times (source) and learn things more easily (source).
- Drive More Safely: You should always get a good night’s sleep before driving. If you begin to feel sleepy while driving, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends pulling over safely for a 20-minute nap and drinking caffeine. Although not a long-term solution, in a difficult situation, napping can be beneficial (source).
- Improved Mood and Relaxation: If you love napping, you can likely attest to this benefit. This is the primary reason that so many people adore taking a catnap in the middle of the afternoon. When they wake up, they feel calmer, happier, and ready to move on with their day.
How to Nap Properly
Do you ever find that after napping, you feel more tired than you did before the nap? Or do you ever wake up with aches and pains post-nap? Use our tips to ensure that your naps are as restful and comfortable as possible:
- Set an alarm. For most people, the ideal nap length is 20 and 40 minutes. This provides restorative sleep and prevents drowsiness. Because a longer sleeping session allows you to reach a deeper stage of sleep, it’s more likely to leave you feeling groggy and fuzzy-headed afterward (source).
- Nap early in the day. If you nap late in the day, you may struggle to fall asleep at your normal bedtime. Try to nap at the midway point between when you wake and when you sleep. For most adults, this is between 1 and 4 p.m. (source).
- Find a sleep-friendly environment. Choose a place where you’re comfortable and relaxed. Ideally, this place will be dark, cool, and quiet. In addition, for comfort and to prevent aches and pains, it is best to nap on a mattress.
- Give yourself a little post-nap leeway. You may feel a bit tired after a nap, so it’s best that you don’t schedule anything immediately afterward, especially something that requires a sharp brain and quick responses. For example, if you need to drive after napping, take a few minutes to wake yourself up afterward by having a snack, drinking something caffeinated, or taking a walk.
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