To Nap or Not?

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Smart Napping Strategies

As with all good things, you can overuse a nap, so plan wisely. It's better to take a handful of 20- to 30-minute naps throughout the week than to indulge in a 4-hour Saturday afternoon nap marathon. Shorter, more frequent naps work to pay down your "sleep debt" -- the accumulated slumber you've missed out on. Conversely, a longer nap makes nighttime sleeping that much harder, setting you up for yet another week of poor sleep. Why the length is crucial: "A 20- or 30-minute nap is restorative for both mind and body," says Kathlyn Cavander, nurse coordinator of the Sleep Disorders Center at Glendale Adventist Medical Center in Glendale, CA. "But if you stay asleep for much longer, you'll go into a deeper stage of sleep, and feel much groggier when you wake up."

Maximize your naptime experience by following these tips:

  • If you're at home: Go into your bedroom or lie down on the couch, shoes off, under the covers if you like, shades drawn.
  • If you're in your office: Close the door, shut the lights, put your phone on hold, and put your head down for 20 minutes. Don't think that's possible? "Why not?" asks Dr. Walsleben. "Explain to your boss or human resources manager that you need a daily snooze in order to remain productive. Take it out of your lunch or coffee break."
  • If you're in your car: Pull over someplace safe (i.e. not on the shoulder of a highway), be sure your doors are locked, and slide the seat as far back as it will go. --Denise Schipani


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