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How to Take the Perfect Nap

Napping is no substitute for sleeping properly, but a short pick-me-up burst of shuteye can get you back on track when your eyes feel heavy. Bed Guru show you how it's done...

31st August, 2016
by Carl Walsh

Napping is no substitute for sleeping properly, but a short pick-me-up burst of shuteye can get you back on track when your eyes feel heavy.

Don’t laugh, toddlers have had the right idea all along, NASA proved that a 26-minute nap enhances performance by 34% and alertness by 54% – which could really help you out of your mid-afternoon slump. From a little advance planning to doing something against all of your sleep-instincts, here’s how to nap like a pro…

Bring a Hoodie

Or something warm and cosy to snuggle up in – if it has a hood, all the better, pull it down over your eyes and block out nap-disturbing daylight.

Hide Your Valuables

Rule number one when napping in a public place like work, on the bus or a train, and in the library between classes – protect your valuables. Loop your arms through your bag straps, zip your pockets up or leave everything behind in a safe space. You don’t want to lose your stuff or sleep through worry.  

Choose Your Moment

Your perfect nap time is roughly seven hours after you wake up, so between 1pm and 3pm for most folk, making your golden window sometime after lunch. You don’t want to risk napping much later than that as it’ll probably disrupt your normal bedtime and you’re more likely to slip into a deeper sleep – leaving you feeling groggy.

Go to Your Quiet Place

Find somewhere no one can disturb you, be it a meeting room at work where you’ve stashed a pillow in your desk drawer, or the library where you can nap between classes. When you’re at home, it’s easy, your bed or sofa are great options.

Sniff Lavender

This will take a little planning on your part, especially if you’re out and about, but smelling a calming sprig or a few drops of lavender oil before napping will help you to sleep more soundly and, supposedly, help you to feel more energetic the next morning.

Drink Coffee

Yes, sleep’s arch nemesis will actually come in handy for your nap. If you’re worried about waking up feeling drowsy, sip a cup of coffee 15-minutes before you go to sleep – it takes 20-30 minutes to take effect, giving you a boost when you wake up. 

Time It Right

Naps aren’t all equal, you have three lengths to choose from:

  • 10-20 minute naps are easy to recover from and give you a burst of energy
  • 60 minute naps will leave you feeling groggy for half an hour afterwards but they boost your short-term memory as you experience the deepest wave of sleep
  • Or 90 minute naps, which give you one full cycle of sleep including the REM dream stage which improves your memory and creativity

Set Your Alarm to Vibrate

Unless you’re at home or somewhere quiet, set your alarm to vibrate, so no matter how noisy it is around you, you won’t miss it.

Sunglasses On, Headphones In

Wearing sleep masks in public isn’t a great look, so block out nap-disturbing light with sunglasses if you’re feeling self-conscious. Listening to soundtracks like thunderstorms or calming music can help you to drift off in noisy places, like when you’re travelling.

Don’t Panic if You Can’t Drift Off Immediately

When you feel the pressure of sleeping on cue to a tight deadline (by the end of your lunch break, say), try some breathing exercises, like breathing in through your left nostril and out through your mouth, or imagining something wonderful to ease your stress.

Eat & Drink Well

To nap on a regular basis or improve your overall ability to sleep, you need to prioritise healthy eating. We’re talking wholegrain cereals and breads, lean proteins like fish and chicken, seasoned with sleep-inducing herbs like sage and basil, washed down with chamomile or peppermint tea – if you want to go all out.

And there you have it, sure-fire ways to nap like a pro, although there is, of course, a way to avoid sleeping during the day – by getting all forty winks during the night. That may call for a better bed or mattress, talk to us about it, we’re always happy to talk sleep!

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