Feeling a bit drowsy? One option would be to grab a coffee and try to shake it off. Another option would be to let yourself take a nap.
Napping for the Right Reason
Napping is usually the most beneficial when drowsiness isn’t a symptom of a sleep-disrupting health condition like insomnia, sleep apnea, stress, depression, or something else. If you’re just feeling a little drowsy after lunch during that afternoon slump or after the occasional poor night’s sleep, a short nap can be restorative for both the mind and the body.
Why It’s Great to Nap
Some people frown upon napping, claiming it can make us feel groggy and sluggish afterward or do damage to our nighttime sleep cycles. While this certainly can be true in some cases, it doesn’t have to be if you take your naps at the right time of day and keep the length short. When you do, you’ll reap these benefits:
Relaxation. Naps allow us to take breaks from our busy lives to relieve stress and tension.
Reduced fatigue. According to a doctor who spoke with WebMD, just 15 to 20 minutes of napping can be enough to reset our system.
Increased alertness. Research on the effects of cognitive functioning say as little as seven minutes of napping can result in a substantial increase in alertness.
Mood enhancement. Sleep and mood are closely connected, so a quick nap can be a good way to improve how we feel when we’re feeling tired and irritable.
Performance improvement. The burst of alertness we get from a good nap also gives us a boost of energy, improving memory and motor performance.
When and How Long You Should Nap
Timing our naps with our circadian rhythms can make a huge difference in whether we’ll feel groggy or refreshed when we wake up. Prime sleep time occurs in the early morning between the hours of 2:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m. and then again in the afternoon between 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. (otherwise known as the afternoon slump). So stick to napping in the afternoon and try limiting it based on what you’re looking to achieve:
- Need to refresh your alertness? Nap for 7 to 10 minutes.
- Need to boost memory and creativity? Nap for 20 minutes.
- Need to improve your decision-making? Nap for 30 to 60 minutes.
- Need to make better connections and improve problem solving? Nap for 60 to 90 minutes.
Mastering Savasana to Avoid Napping
Corpse pose (Savasana) is a resting pose many of us do at the end of our yoga practice, which is actually considered to be the most important (and hardest) pose of all. Like napping, it helps rest and relax both the mind and body, but quite unlike napping, it involves being totally conscious and detached from what we’re presently thinking or feeling as we lie still.
The challenge of corpse pose has everything to do with total surrender. Instead of becoming consumed by the thoughts that flow through our mind or continuing to want to move our bodies after doing so much physical work with our muscles, we’re given the opportunity to experience a deeply restorative process.
Consider staying a little longer in corpse pose at the end of your practice, inching your way closer to a complete state surrender. This should help minimize your need to nap later on in the day.