“Sleep when you’re dead.” I’ve heard this more times than I can count. The idea is that you’ll have plenty of time to sleep when you die, so don’t waste your time while your alive.
Napping and sleeping in general has become a sign of laziness or weakness. We should be willing, society says, to forego sleep in an effort to keep going, keep working, keep doing.
But sleep and napping specifically, can actually make you a better and more productive person overall. In fact, some companies are installing nap rooms. In fact, research on pilots at NASA showed that a 26-minute nap in flight (while a co-pilot was on duty) enhanced performance by 34% and overall alertness by 54%.
So, get comfy, lean back and get a few winks. You’ll be surprised at how refreshed you’ll feel after — and ready to keep working.
Take Off Your Shoes
This is really essential. Taking off your shoes will help you get in a comfier state of mind and if you aren’t laying there thinking about how you still have your shoes on, your much more likely to get to sleep quickly.
Laying down for a nap tells your body that you are ready to sleep. Sleep is essential for “resetting” your brain and getting you ready for the rest of your day. It also takes about 50 percent longer to fall asleep sitting up. So it’s much better to just lay down and go right to sleep – especially if you’re on a schedule.
“Sleep not only rights the wrong of prolonged wakefulness but, at a neurocognitive level, it moves you beyond where you were before you took a nap,” said Matthew Walker, an assistant professor of psychology at UC Berkeley who studies the effects of sleep and napping.
Use a Blanket
Or a coat or something to snuggle under. Because sleeping lowers your metabolism, you can get chilled while you’re sleeping. Use a blanket to keep you cozy and sleeping the whole time you’re taking your nap.
Limit Your Napping Time
Aim for a nap of between 20 and 45 minutes. Naps of this length will help you feel refreshed, yet keep you from feeling groggy. A nap of about 90 minutes in length can also boost your creativity. Much longer, though, and you’ll feel groggy and possibly have trouble acclimating back into your day for a little while.
Nap After Lunch
Our bodies are predisposed to sleep after lunch – which is likely why were are so sleepy after lunch, regardless of what we’ve eaten. In a U.C. Berkeley sleep study, “At 2 p.m., the nap group took a 90-minute siesta while the no-nap group stayed awake. Later that day, at 6 p.m., participants performed a new round of learning exercises. Those who remained awake throughout the day became worse at learning. In contrast, those who napped did markedly better and actually improved in their capacity to learn.”
Remember, just because people in the U.S. sleep only at night, doesn’t mean that’s how our bodies are meant to function. Many cultures sleep shorter at night and incorporate a short nap into the day. This helps you get more accomplished all day long, instead of just during the 8 or 10 hours you spend at work.
Set an Alarm
Don’t waste your time trying to wake up any other way. If you need to do something at a certain time — pick up your child from school, go to a meeting, or whatever, then set an alarm and make sure you’ll hear it. Most cell phones have alarm functions and you can even set them to go off again if you need them to.
Don’t let cultural expectations or societal standards dictate your need for sleep. If you need to sleep, sleep. Work it in to your schedule so that you can sleep when you need to and still perform your job or other responsibilities effectively. There is no reason why needing to sleep should make you feel guilty. Everyone needs to, whether they admit or not. It’s way better to get some sleep and keep going then to just lay around and watch TV at the end of the day — not doing anything useful because you’re too tired to do anything else.