A good nap can reboot a rough day, leaving you refreshed and better able to focus. Naps, however, can upset your sleep schedule, making it harder to get the sleep you need at night. Napping to "make up" for lost sleep is likely to make the problem worse. Our bodies are programmed to get a certain amount of sleep. The consolidated sleep we get at night is the most important. If daytime dreams subtract sleep from our nights, we end up feeling fatigued during the day and more in need of a nap. This creates a frustrating cycle that leaves us tired more often than not. So how can you get the benefits of napping without derailing your nights?

BELIEVE IN THE CAT NAP
Short naps are refreshing and less likely to interfere with your nighttime sleep. Limit your naps to 20-40 minutes to avoid transitioning into deep sleep. Light sleep during a nap recharges the body without subtracting sleep from the night.

NOT MORE THAN ONCE A DAY
Napping more than once a day is more likely to interfere with your nighttime sleep. If you feel drowsy enough to nap more than once a day, it is possible that your nighttime sleep is not sufficiently restorative. It's important to discuss this with your doctor because it could indicate a disorder such as sleep apnea, which has serious medical consequences when left untreated.

THE ALARM IS YOUR FRIEND
Do set an alarm. You will be able to relax and fall asleep more quickly if you are certain that you will wake up at the right time.

EARLY BIRD GETS THE NAP
Don't nap late in the day. Finish your nap by 3 p.m., or it could be harder to fall asleep at bedtime.

WRITE IT DOWN
Do keep track of your naps and nighttime sleep with a sleep diary. Keeping track of how much you sleep during the day and at night will help you to determine whether napping is affecting your nighttime sleep. It's hard to remember details over time. But those details are important to identify patterns over time. If you notice that you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking too early on days when you nap, try a week without naps to see if the problem disappears.

NOT EVERYONE'S A NATURAL
Don't nap if you have trouble waking up. Sadly, some people are just bad nappers. If you feel worse after a nap or struggle mightily to wake up, it's just not worth it. Instead, try drinking a cold glass of water, stretching, or taking a brisk walk to get your heart rate up when you feel sleepy during the day.

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Copyright © 2019 Caroline Bienert - Speaker + Nutrition Expert

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