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By: Brendan Duffy on April 19th, 2016

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3 Tips on How to Nap: Location, Time and Reasons

Events | Sleep Technologist Advice


Reasons for Napping

Want to learn some tips on how to nap?

While we usually speak to our patients about the benefits of a good night’s sleep, there are also some patients that need information about how to make a daytime nap beneficial.

There are several elements that go into making a naptime successful.  These include:

Location, Location, Location

Cargo-200Not long ago a baggage handler fell asleep and found himself several thousand feet above ground in the cargo hold of an Alaska Airlines jet that departed from Seattle.   

The plane had to return to the airport and land after being in the air for 14 minutes after passengers heard knocking from the floor under their feet! Obviously, this man’s choice for nap accommodations was not thought out very well!  

When looking for a nap environment, a person needs to choose a safe place where he will not be endangered while slumbering.  

It should be a secure location and not in the presence of strangers who could take advantage of them, or their belongings, while they attempt to rest. 

A crowded subway ride seems to be a favorite for a quick nap for some, but it is not ideal due to the noise or the fact that a napping person could be a target for thieves.   

The proper location would be a safe and quiet area that ideally allows a person to lie down in a secure environment.  Some companies are now offering nap quarters as one of their company perks!  And some cities are showcasing sleep pods where folks can leave the “hustle and bustle” of the urban area, or bustling airport, to get a quick refreshing recharge nap.

Length of Time and Time of Day 

time-225When taking a nap, it is best to try and spend about 20 minutes or so napping  so that you do not wake up groggy.  Waking up in a “sleep fog” could happen if you sleep too long and then wake up from a deeper state of sleep. 

As we sleep, we cycle through light and deep phases of sleep. Waking up from deeper sleep is not recommended.  This may impair your decision making and judgment until you fully become alert to your surroundings again.

In order to avoid sleeping too long, a napper may want to set an alarm for about 20 minutes. Older patients sometimes disrupt their nighttime sleep because they take too many- or too lengthy –naps during the day time.   

The maximum nap should probably not exceed one total sleep cycle which is about 90 minutes.   Many people feel the urge to nap after lunch and there is a reason for this.  One of our natural drowsy stages during the day time is between 2 PM and 4 PM.  Add to that a relaxing meal, and we have the makings of a strong sleep urge!

Enjoy the luxury of an occasional refreshing nap, but be careful not to negatively impact a good night’s sleep by overdoing the napping!

Reasons for Napping

reasons-225It is important to realize that a nap cannot substitute for a full night’s sleep.  A nap can certainly be of benefit to refresh a person, and replenish some energy.  Even some professional athletes like to curl up before a game and take a short nap while engaging in mental imagery of how they intend to succeed in the contest ahead.   

These are valid reasons to enjoy a daytime slumber period.  However, naps cannot cure a sleep disorder that causes a person to be excessively sleepy during the day.  Napping is not a substitute for getting help with such sleep disorders as sleep apnea, insomnia, or Periodic Limb Movement Disorder.   

It also should not be confused with the uncontrollable urge to nap that is displayed by our narcoleptic patients.  So it is important to examine why a person is napping to begin with!  A person with a sleep disorder should be examined by a sleep specialist to explore the various sleep disorders that could be causing sleepiness during the day. 

So while we spend our nights as sleep technologists working to help patients get the perfect sleep, let’s remember that an occasional well timed nap can be a wonderful refresher if done correctly!  And that is where we as sleep professionals can assist in educating our patients about proper napping!

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