Adult nap time: fall asleep quickly and feel refreshed

November 27, 2014

Napping is no longer the exclusive domain of toddlers and infants. Not only do naps feel wonderful, but according to the Journal of Sleep Research, napping actually improves memory in adults, along with providing other benefits. Here are some ways to make sure you feel refreshed, rather than groggy, after a nap.

Adult nap time: fall asleep quickly and feel refreshed

Take a stand (but not at nap time)

There's a reason an increasing number of airlines offer fully reclining seats in the first class cabin. It's much more difficult to fall asleep while sitting up than laying down for both comfort reasons and physiological reasons. To get the biggest bang for your napping buck, find a location (hint: not your desk) where you can lay down and stretch out.

Set the mood

While simply resting your body isn't bad, you will feel significantly more refreshed if you actually fall asleep. Facilitate this shift to actual sleep by making the environment as slumber-friendly as possible. Dim the lights and, if possible, adjust the temperature. Research suggests that for most people, a cool 18 to 22 Celsius is ideal for sleeping.

You may also want to incorporate white noise. Because white noise is evenly spread across all audible frequencies, it can help mask sudden sounds that would otherwise interrupt your sleep. Apps available for smartphones and tablets can produce a range of soothing sounds, from true mathematically derived white noises to nature-inspired rainstorms and ocean waves. Be careful not to over-engage with your devices just before napping, though. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the light from electronic devices can trick our brains into staying awake.

Be consistent

By repeatedly recreating these same environmental cues, you can teach your body to recognize when it's time to get busy napping. This will help reduce time wasted trying to fall asleep and maximize the impact of your nap session.

Time it right

The most important factor affecting nap quality is timing. Naps that are excessively short can be unsatisfying, while long naps may allow your body to settle into too deep of a sleep, leaving you feeling groggy when you wake. Long naps may also affect your ability to fall asleep at night. The perfect balance? Generally a nap between 20 to 45 minutes will be enough to refresh your mind and boost productivity for the balance of the day.

If you're starting to lag by afternoon, use these tips and try the type of napping that leaves you feeling invigorated rather than exhausted.

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