Top tips for having a better nap according to sleep experts

Virgin Radio

9 Mar 2022, 10:15

Credit: Getty

Credit: Getty

Many studies have shown that naps can be hugely beneficial to your health and can improve productivity, energy levels, mood, and memory.

However, have you ever had those naps where you wake up confused, groggy and feeling worse than before? 

Those kinds of naps have the opposite effect. 

If that is something that happens to you often or you want to learn how to optimize your napping time- you might want to pay attention to these tips from sleep expert Kiera Pritchard from Eachnight

When should you nap? 

According to Kiera, there is an optimal time in the day that you should nap and that is usually six to eight hours after you wake up. 

If you attempt to catch some z’s earlier than that, you might mess with your natural wake-up time, and if you try any later, it might be more difficult to fall asleep later. 

She advises a nap at lunchtime is the best. 

How long should you nap for? 

It’s important that your naps don’t go on for too long but long enough to give you the boost you need. 

So, Kiera recommends you aim for 90 minutes because that is how long a normal sleep cycle lasts for. 

She explains that while a 30–60 minute nap might seem like the best option, they only see you through to the third and fourth stages of sleep, and that is what causes that groggy and drowsy feeling. 

Credit: Getty

Credit: Getty

Speaking to Metro, she said: “A 90-minute nap allows you to complete one full sleep cycle, and waking from these naps is generally easy. 

“Since you experience each stage of sleep and wake up back at stage one, these naps leave you feeling refreshed and more awake, so they don’t cause sleep inertia like an hour-long nap can.

“A full sleep cycle can boost creativity and improve procedural and emotional memory. However, you should avoid taking 90-minute naps within seven hours of your scheduled bedtime to ensure it doesn’t interfere with your nightly sleep.”

However, she does say that a power nap of 20 minutes is the next best thing for boosting productivity if you’re stuck for time. 

What makes a good nap? 

According to Kiera, there are three key things that optimise your nap time. 

The first one is creating a good environment. 

Kiera advises somewhere quiet, dark and relatively cool with minimal distraction- like your sofa or bedroom. 

However, if you’re planning to take a nap at work, you may have to get creative. 

Kiera says: “If you plan to nap at your office or in your car, an eye mask and earplugs can help you block out outside noise and light.”

The second step in getting a good nap is setting an alarm. 

If you’re extremely tired, what is supposed to be a quick power nap might turn out to be a lot longer than you intended- which is no good if you’re at work!

So, to save yourself set an alarm for 10 or 90 minutes and make sure you wake up in time. 

The third thing that will help you get a good rest is making sure you’re relaxed as you drift off and Kiera recommends doing some breathing exercises. 

It can be quite difficult to slow your mind down in the middle of the day, so these might help. 

Kiera suggests breathing slowly in and out and focusing the breath down in your belly while saying the mantra, “Breathing in I am calm, breathing out I am coping”. 

She says: “After you’ve taken a few gentle breaths, start tensing groups of muscles as you breathe. This method requires you to hold a muscle’s tension as you breathe in, releasing it as you breathe out. Start with the muscles in the head and neck, then move your focus down your body. Tense and relax your muscles in your shoulders, arms, back, stomach, thighs, etc.”

Waking up from your nap 

If you’re still feeling knackered and groggy even after your nap there are still some things you can do to improve your energy levels. 

Keira suggests going for a walk, drinking a small cup of tea or coffee and splashing cold water on your face.