There’s nothing better than a perfect nap, where you close your eyes and trade fatigue for relaxation and refreshment. Unfortunately, a nap that nice only comes along once in awhile, or at least that’s the case for most of us. But some new information from sleep experts shows that setting yourself up for an ideal nap is a skill anyone can (and should!) learn.
Taking daily naps and getting proper rest can improve your attitude and energy levels during important workouts like those experienced by the participants on our original series Altar'd. On the show, couples separate for a period of physical and mental life-makeovers before getting married. Find out when to watch 'Altar'd' and where you can tune in.
To help yourself ensure a quality nap schedule to accompany your workouts and healthy eating, here’s a 5 step guide to taking a perfect nap:
1. Take A Nap At The Same Time Everyday.
By creating consistency in your napping schedule, you’ll help your body get into a rhythm that will make actually sleeping during naptime easier. This will also help you nap without affecting your nighttime sleep schedule. The best way to make sure that your daytime nap doesn’t make it difficult to sleep at night, is to schedule your naps for late morning or early afternoon.
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2. Set The Scene.
People often suggest turning off the television before going to bed at night, but light and noise can get in the way of sleep during the day as well. Make sure you find a private space where you can draw the blinds and tune out. If it’s not that easy, sleep masks and earplugs work wonders for getting you in the nap zone.
3. Get Horizontal.
Obviously, if you can nap in bed, go for it. It will be the easiest place to set a good scene, and fall into a deep sleep. If you don’t have a bed handy for your perfect nap, at least get yourself horizontal. Sitting up in a car seat, or hunched forward leaning on a table might offer temporary relief, but it’ll make quality sleep tougher to attain.
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4. Sniff Lavender.
Perceptual and Motor Skills published a study back in 2012 that tested men and women falling asleep to the smell of lavender. Essentially, they proved that the aroma improves the quality of sleep, and leaves nappers more alert after they wake up. Additionally, if you smell lavender regularly, it can also serve as a sort of Pavlovian trigger to help you conk out.
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5. Limit Yourself To 20-25 Minute Naps Only.
Have you ever taken a long nap and woken up foggy-brained and confused? That’s because of a sleep inertia, which is a state of mind that makes you feel settled in deep sleep for the night. Keep your naps short to feel refreshed, and to avoid sleeping away the day. In this vein, Dr. W. Christopher Winter, owner of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine in Virginia recently told Time, “For most people, 20 to 25 minutes of napping is perfect.”