According to the Journal of Sleep Research, even 6 minutes of shut-eye can positively impact your mind by improving your long-term memory and your ability to recall facts and knowledge! So if you want to get on-board the napping train, try these top 10 tips:
1. Have a Coffee
Yes, really. If your napping schedule is tight, and you need to feel wide-awake as soon as you wake up drink a cup of coffee before the napping commences. Caffeine takes about 20 minutes to kick in, explains Jim Horne of the Sleep Research Council, giving you a perfect window of napping opportunity.
2. Consider Time of Day
Because disrupting your overnight rest is the last thing you want to do. Generally, early afternoon is the best time of day for a nap – between 1 and 3pm. However if you’re an early riser, late sleeper or shift worker this might not be the best time for you to grab 40 winks. Check out The Interactive Nap Wheel by Dr Sara Mednick to calculate the best time for you (click here to visit the page).
3. Eat Right
Prepare your body for rest by eating foods which are high in calcium and protein. Avoid fatty and sugary foods. So if you’re planning to rest after lunch, you could have a meat salad and a yoghurt. Protein, tick. Calcium, tick!
4. Set a Time Limit
For short term alertness, nap for 20 to 30 minutes. Any longer than half an hour and you risk falling into a deep sleep, feeling groggy and interfering with your nighttime rest. So be sure to set an alarm – or two!
5. Find the Right Spot
In an ideal world, you’d be able to nap at home in your own bed. However, if that’s not possible find somewhere cool and dark where you can lie down. You can use an eyemask or sunglasses to make it even darker.
6. Make Some Noise! (Or Block it Out)
This is down to personal preference. Some people find background noise relaxing, while others need total silence to be in with a chance of drifting off. Carry either ear plugs or ear phones with you. Ear plugs can help to drown out noise if it’s too loud, and ear phones can create background noise if it’s too quiet.
7. Focus on Your Breathing
Take deeper breaths and slow it down. If you need a more structured breathing exercise, try this one which is recommended by Peter Smith, author of Sleep Better with Natural Therapies:
"Lie on your left side, resting a finger on your right nostril to close it. Start slow deep breathing in the left nostril".
According to Peter, inhaling through your left nostril and taking slow deep breaths will reduce your blood pressure and help you relax.
8. Think About Your Muscles
Mentally work your way up your body, relaxing each muscle group as you go. Not only will the act of relaxing them help you feel more comfortable and ready for sleep physically, but the self-awareness and focus will help you feel calmer – perfect when you’re keen to visit the Land of Nod.
9. Try a Mind Game
We’re not talking about counting sheep: Psychotherapist Julie Hirst advises that if you keep your eyes wide open and repeat “I will not sleep” to yourself, your brain will interpret it as an instruction to go to sleep and your eyes will start to close. Weird, right?
10. Wake Up Right
When you wake up from a nap, try to get out into the daylight as soon as possible, as it’ll help you feel alert. Splashing your face with water can also help you to feel fresh and ready to go.
With all this talk of napping, we’re starting to feel a bit drowsy. Nap well