Back to school or the office? Sarah Moe explains why napping is an inherent part of a healthy sleep ritual.
You finish lunch and jump back on your laptop, hoping to continue knocking out work or study, for the rest of the day. Then, you start feeling that afternoon "slump". You yawn, stretch, move around a bit to perk up, and wonder "did I eat too much”? But your eyelids start to feel heavier, and you realize you need to get up and grab another cup of coffee. If this sounds familiar, you are not alone.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends a 20 to 30 minute power nap each day. In other countries, like Spain, the "siesta", or afternoon nap is so important that most businesses shut down from 2-4pm to allow for all to rest. In the popular "Mediterranean Diet", certain types of foods are eaten to create long lifespans in communities. However, the need for afternoon naps is often overlooked even though naps are also incorporated into this "diet". Most importantly, taking the time to rest in the afternoon brings numerous benefits to our health and productivity - it will boost energy, ease stress, lift our mood, make us more alert, sharpen our memory and improve our performance at work or in school.
Here are some tips to get the most out of an afternoon nap:
- Chose a dark quiet place, and set your alarm for 25 minutes - this is the perfect amount of time to get into that restful deep sleep, but prevent us from sleeping for too long and experiencing "Sleep Inertia", or that groggy feeling upon awakening.
- Grab your eye mask to block out the daytime light. Silence your phone and eliminate other potential interruptions. If finding a place to fall asleep is difficult at work or in school, a quiet meditative state can also eliminate that uncomfortable afternoon slump.
- If you struggle with heartburn or acid reflux after lunch, try elevating your head with extra pillows or rest on a recliner. Also, consider taking your nap before lunch to avoid these issues.
- Give yourself permission to enjoy this important ritual. The sooner you can embrace and enjoy your afternoon nap, the quicker you will see the health, energy, and productivity benefits!
If you have students in elementary and middle school, as you know, napping is no longer part of their school schedule. If you find your child to be worn down, over-tired, or struggling when they get home from school, consider moving their bedtime up a bit earlier. The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following amount of sleep for each age group:
- Preschool: 3-5 years old = 10-13 hours
- School Age: 6-13 years old = 9-11 hours
- Teen: 14-17 years old = 8-10 hours
Happy napping everyone!