We all can acknowledge it: we fought napping as kids. Now, we’d do anything for the opportunity to take a cat nap after lunch. No? Just me? Cool.
I used to feel guilty about taking a cat nap – shouldn’t I be awake, be productive, and be human at 2 pm? But now, I’m happy to tell you the truth: science supports napping. I gave five hundred sighs of relief when I heard this, then promptly curled up and passed out. Don’t believe that science backs me up? Check it out.
Is There A Specific Nap That’s Good For You?
According to the Sleep Foundation, there are categories of naps: recovery, prophylactic, appetitive, fulfillment, and essential naps. Each one is important in its own way and has its own benefits. For example, an essential nap is great when you’re sick, while a prophylactic nap is taken prior to a period of sleep loss, for energy. They all have purposes.
What does matter, in terms of the most fulfilling nap: the time spent asleep. Our sleep runs in stages – we’ve all heard of how important REM sleep is – so timing is everything. Five minutes is too short, while 30 minutes may take you into slow-wave sleep (aka NREM), which can take up to an hour to move out of. 10 to 20 minutes is the recommended amount for a cat nap.
Napping’s benefits include better memory, regulated emotions, and improved learning ability. There aren’t many negatives – insomnia is a possibility, but any disorientation can be avoided by taking shorter naps, therefore avoiding the slow-wave sleep.
How to Get Your Best Cat Nap
1. 10- to 20-minute naps are best, since you don’t enter slow-wave sleep. This will make it easier to wake up. Set an alarm so you don’t go over.
2. Take your cat nap earlier in the day – the later you take one, the harder it will be to fall asleep at night. Generally you should take a nap before 3 pm so as to not completely disrupt your sleep schedule.
3. Don’t drape yourself over a metal chair and hope you sleep due to exhaustion. Instead, find white noise, turn the lights off, and set the thermostat to a comfortable temperature. If you’re not comfortable, you won’t get the sleep you’re looking for, even if you do sleep for 20 minutes.
4. Try a coffee nap. Drink a cup of coffee right before you lie down to sleep, set your alarm for 20 minutes, and snooze. The idea is that you’ll wake up refreshed from the nap and alert from the caffeine.
There are also apps that can help with getting a good cat nap:
Need help getting comfy? Try these sleeping aids:
Should You Take A Cat Nap?
If you’re constantly tired, naps may be for you. Follow the above suggestions, try out the apps, and splurge on some aids for the best cat nap of your life. Just don’t let go of your sleep routine (phone before bed? A big no-no). May the zzz’s treat you well.
Do you nap? Have any tips on how to get the best sleep out of them? Let us know in the comments!
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