Many people around the world love a good nap. In fact, siestas
are an integral part of some cultures. A quick nap boosts productivity and
performance, according to some research.

But, other studies (perhaps controversial)
indicate a connection between napping and mortality. Napping during the day
increases the risk of premature death by up to a third! Apparently, napping
causes inflammation and increases the risk of respiratory illnesses.

Could it be that people who nap regularly do so
for reasons other than because they feel sluggish in the afternoon? Why do they
nap? Is it for cultural or environmental reasons? Age-related issues?
Underlying health conditions?

Until researchers find conclusive evidence one
way or the other, follow these ground rules to ensure your naps do you more
good than harm.

How to Nap Right

●    No
more than 30 minutes

The health and cognitive benefits of naps
decline rapidly the longer you nap. Naps longer than an hour are bad for your
physical and mental health. They leave you feeling groggy, plus you’re likelier
to make mistakes after waking up from a long nap.

The ideal nap is between 20 and 30 minutes long,
ensuring that you stay within the light stage of sleep and awaken just before
deep sleep begins.

The danger zone is between 30 and 80 minutes because you’ll wake up before the end of the deep sleep phase, making it likelier you’ll have that dreadful groggy feeling. You’d be better off napping for a complete sleep cycle, which is about 90 minutes long.

If you find yourself struggling with keeping
your naps between 20-30 minutes, you might have a hidden health condition like
depression or obstructive sleep apnea.

●    Not
after 3 pm

If you nap too early in the day, you’ll probably just lie awake for 30 minutes because your energy levels are still high. Nap too late in the day, and you’ll likely struggle to fall asleep at night.

The best time for a nap is early afternoon
because that’s when your energy levels start to dip. You’ll fall asleep
quicker, sleep more deeply, and wake up more refreshed.

●    Find
a comfortable place

If you’re serious about napping, find a quiet, comfortable place with few distractions. If you’re at work, you could avoid the noise and bright lights of the office by taking a short nap in your car, if you drive to work. Alternatively, take lunch offsite and use your lunch break for a nap. Napping under your desk isn’t recommended.

●    Naps
are not a replacement for sleep

Napping during the day isn’t a band-aid for poor sleep during the night. You require deep sleep to restore your mind and body; naps only provide light sleep. You’re better off saving the time you would have spent napping by going to bed earlier instead.

Naps aren’t for everyone. Some people love them
while others either lie there will their eyes closed until the alarm goes off,
or wake up two hours later in a panic, not knowing what day it is or where they

If you enjoy naps, try to take them in a comfortable place before 3 pm and keep them under 30 minutes. Also, never use them as a replacement for sleep unless you’re ill or sleep-deprived and need your rest.

Photo by Zohre Nemati on Unsplash

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