Do you nap? Do you even have time to nap? Do you avoid it because it disrupts your sleep at night? Or do you wonder about how to nap effectively? There are a lot of conflicting opinions around this subject, so I get asked about it all the time.
And you know what? I’m a huge fan of naps! The body and mind can benefit immensely from this simple recharging process. However, it’s the definition of what a nap is that’s confusing. And there is an art to it if you want to appreciate the benefits.
The art of napping
During a good-quality nap, your mind can reach states where the brain waves change. You can enter what I call ‘the high-performance state’ in which you’ll empty your stress bucket a little. Therefore you should wake from that nap feeling refreshed and revived.
When you nap correctly, it’s not the same sleep you get at night. It’s a state of mind that rests the conscious part of the brain but allows the subconscious part to get to work.
During this time you’re not switched off. Remember when I said your brain waves can change? Well, they can change to a frequency which would show the brain working four times harder than if you were sitting doing a maths test.
Four times harder! That’s phenomenal – and can help you empty your stress bucket superfast as well. If you get it right!
Read on to find out about my advice on how to nap effectively:
1. It’s all in the timing
20 minutes is the perfect length of time for a nap. Less than this and you’re not getting the benefit. More than this you could just end up going into a deep sleep phase which would then disrupt your sleep at night and make you feel groggy afterwards rather than refreshed.
So I recommend setting a timer for 30 minutes, this gives you five minutes to settle into it and about five minutes to come around from it, too.
2. Don’t expect silence
You’re napping, not sleeping, so normal everyday sounds will continue around you. Learn to accept those sounds in the background of your awareness. They just remind you that the world is safely still carrying on.
We’re very rarely ever in complete silence and in fact, having things completely quiet could also be quite disconcerting. So get used to the sounds around you.
3. Keep warm
When you relax the body temperature drops so always have a blanket, even if you feel warm to begin with.
You don’t want to disrupt the nap halfway through by beginning to feel cold.
4. Repeat, repeat, repeat
The mind loves repetition. So don’t give up if you can’t nap perfectly the first time you try. Try again, another day, following the same rules every time.
And if it’s not your thing, that’s fine too. Don’t think that you MUST do this. It’s not essential – but it is amazing if you can perfect it!
One important point for you insomniacs: If you can’t sleep at night, DON’T nap – that’s right, do not nap!
You need to build up ‘sleep pressure’ to fall asleep. By having a nap in the daytime you are relieving that sleep pressure which will further stop you from sleeping at night. So however tired you may be, save it up for your nighttime sleep.
Everybody else: Happy napping!
Want to find out more? Check out my series about Solution-Focused Therapy and how it can help you cope with stress, anxiety, depression & related symptoms.