Humans are nearly alone in the animal kingdom not for our immense intelligence or our mastery of tools, but for our sleeping schedules. Humans are monophasic sleepers, which means we typically experience rest all at once, unlike other animals that spread their periods of sleep throughout the day. However, plenty of new research from sleep labs around the world indicates that our monophasic sleep may be detrimental, and a healthier and more restorative method to sleep is in two or three increments during the day and night. You know what that means: Science has approved taking a nap!
However, the ideal nap is as much an art as a science. To achieve a feeling of restfulness and full energy, you can’t shut your eyes anywhere, anytime. If you want to receive the full benefits of a daytime nap, here’s how to perfect your napping technique and wake up refreshed and ready to go.
>>Establish a Sleeping Space
One of the most effective pieces of advice to help troubled sleepers find rest at night is to reserve the bed solely for sleep. If you lie in bed while you complete tasks that require your full attention e.g., you do work or you watch television your body will associate the space with wakefulness, and you will have trouble quickly falling into sound sleep. Napping requires even quicker dropping off, which means establishing a dedicated napping space is doubly important.
You’ll likely find that you receive the most satisfying naps when you doze on your bed at home. However, you can always make small changes to make your bed even more conducive of naps. For example, flex head number beds give you support as well as comfort for the most relaxing positions, and blackout curtains will cancel out the daylight to allow your mind and body to calm.
Still, not everyone has enough time to run home for a quick nap every day. Some businesses are building specific nap rooms for their employees to rejuvenate during a long day of work, but not every office is so progressive. Instead, you should do your best to find a quiet, dark space where your body is allowed to feel sleepy for some time. An empty office is ideal.
If you aren’t accustomed to a daily nap, your body probably won’t allow you to drift off fully the first few times you attempt a midday rest. Instead of abandoning the endeavor and going back to work, you should use your dedicated nap time to unwind consciously. You should consider practicing meditation techniques to soothe your mind and body and eventually help you fall asleep:
- Breathe. Keep your thoughts on your slow inhale and exhale, which you draw deeply from your abdomen rather than your chest.
- Imagine. Use your imagination to create peaceful, relaxing images in your thoughts; for example, you may picture a serene beach or an empty work schedule.
- Think. Focus on current problems that are creating stress in your life, and concentrate on letting these stresses go.
- Count. Whether it is imagined sheep jumping over a fence or your steady inhales and exhales, count numbers until you drift off.
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>>Watch the Clock
When you wake up feeling rested and refreshed, you might believe that you slept deeply all night long. In reality, while your mind is unconscious, your body repeats a sleep cycle that includes long periods of light, moderate, and deep sleep. If you interrupt the cycle at any point, you will likely feel groggy and fatigued.
While you nap, your body attempts to complete the same sleep cycle, which is why it is so important to know beforehand how much time you can spare for your nap:
- 10 to 20 minutes. Your body stays in lighter phases of sleep, and you will awake with a small boost in energy and alertness with absolutely no sleepiness.
- 30 minutes. Your body begins a moderately deep phase of sleep called REM, but it doesn’t have enough time to begin healing, so when you wake up you will experience a difficult ?sleep hangover? that can last an additional 30 minutes.
- 60 minutes. Your body enters the deepest level of sleep, but you interrupt the sleep unnaturally before the phase can conclude; you?ll awaken feeling groggy, but eventually you will feel rejuvenated.
- 90 minutes. Your body completes a full sleep cycle, entering and ending each important phase of sleep, so you will immediately experience improved memory, emotional stability, and creativity.
>>Track Your Health
Everyone experiences sleep differently, which means that your body’s requirements for a healthy nap may be more or less than those listed above. You should keep a record of your feelings after your naps, and if the biphasic sleeping schedule fails to help you feel alert and focused, you may need to speak with a doctor regarding alternative sleeping solutions.