According to the National Sleep Foundation, about 1-in-3 adults could benefit from taking a short afternoon nap each day. But to make sure you’re getting the most from your naps, follow these guidelines from Dr. Mark Buchfuhrer, medical director of the Comprehensive Sleep Center at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles.
First: Plan your nap for between noon and 2pm, but NO LATER. Research shows our body’s circadian “clock” naturally changes around lunchtime, and makes us sleepy, which means it’s an ideal time to take a nap! But if you try to rest later than 2pm, Dr. Buchfehrer says you’ll risk interfering with your normal sleep routine – because your body may still be wide awake in the evening.
Next, limit your naps to LESS than 30 minutes. Several studies have shown napping for as little as 10 minutes is linked to increased alertness and cognitive function. But if you nap longer than 30 minutes, Dr. Buchfehrer says you’ll enter a deeper phase of sleep, where your brain will want to STAY asleep. Which means you’ll wake up feeling disoriented and even MORE sluggish than before your nap.
Finally, when it comes to nap location, Dr. Buchfehrer recommends finding a spot that’s similar to your bedroom at home. Meaning, it should be dark, quiet, and cooled to around 65 degrees, Fahrenheit – which helps trigger the release of the sleep hormone, melatonin. However, DON’T worry about napping on a flat surface, like a couch or bed. Research shows that could actually make it harder for you to wake up from a nap… compared to, say, reclining the seat in your car.