How to Nap Without Ruining Your Sleep
You are allowed to nap!
If you don't sleep well at night, you’ve probably been told not to take a nap during the day. The reason is because you want to build up sleep pressure throughout the day so you can sleep at night.
But I’ve found for myself and many of my clients that a nap does NOT make them sleep worse at night. In fact, many sleep better when they rest during the day.
Many cultures take a break after lunch for a nap. It makes sense to nap after lunch because that's when we have a natural dip in our daily circadian rhythm. Eating lots of carbohydrates for lunch can magnify that drowsiness. That's why you crave a cup of coffee or a sweet treat mid-afternoon. But what your body really wants is a nap!
Benefits of Napping
There are so many benefits to napping. Taking a nap can restore alertness, enhance performance, and reduce mistakes and accidents. What a relaxing way to improve your mood, too! And people who nap regularly retain more information and can recover better from burnout or brain overload. Naps also boost creativity, reduce stress, improve perception, stamina, motor skills and accuracy, enhance your sex life, aid in weight loss, and reduce the risk of heart attack.
Famous nappers include Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Napoleon, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison and George W. Bush.
How to nap
If you don’t sleep well at night, I recommend a power nap. This is a quick 20 minute nap. During the power nap, you will fall into the first two stages of sleep but you won't have enough time to enter stage 3, or deep sleep. Give yourself about 30 minutes for this nap because it usually takes 10 or so minutes to actually fall asleep. The power nap is perfect after lunch in the middle of your work day when you need to focus for the rest of the afternoon.
It’s ok if you don't fall asleep! The purpose of a nap isn’t to fall asleep. The purpose is to rest. Resting lowers your cortisol (which is already high from not sleeping well the night before) and it gives your brain and your body a break.
You can take a longer nap if you purposely slept less than usual from travelling or work. This restorative nap would be 60-90 minutes long so you'll enter deep sleep during this nap. You want to give yourself time to wake up naturally. If you don't, you'll wake up groggy and disoriented because you’ll wake up in the middle of a sleep cycle. I don’t recommend taking a long nap often or if you have chronic insomnia because a longer nap can interfere with your sleep at night.
1. Time your nap at least 4-5 hours before bedtime to make sure you can still sleep at night.
2. Set an alarm for 30 minutes so you don't fall into a deep sleep and wake up dazed and confused.
3. Make sure you are napping at the right time. Early afternoon around 2pm is when the natural circadian rhythm dip happens for most people.
4. Avoid sugar and caffeine before you want to nap.
5. It’s ok if you don't fall asleep!
Most people who say they can't nap are trying to nap at the wrong time of day or they're consuming too much sugar and caffeine that's preventing them from falling asleep. Or it’s another sign that your body isn’t functioning correctly and it won’t let you sleep. I can help you find everything that is keeping you awake both at night and during the day.
It may take a little bit of experimenting to figure out how napping works best for you. When I had insomnia after having my son, I became a great napper! I could easily take a short nap in the early afternoon (while my son was napping) and wake up naturally after about 30 minutes and feel so rejuvenated! Sometimes I would think I didn’t fall asleep. But then there would be drool on my pillow so I know I did!
You don't want to constantly try to make up for not sleeping well by taking naps. If you aren’t sleeping, it’s affecting your health, your relationships and your entire life. Book a call with me to learn how we’ll find out why you can’t sleep and how I can help you get the sleep you want to be healthy and love life!