Thursday, October 29, 2009

Nap Time

Photo via ChattahBox

Are you a napper? It seems like when it comes to naps, most people are either devotees or avoidees. Some, like my mother (and the many cultures who enjoy a siesta), embrace the refreshing benefits of an afternoon doze on the sofa. Others, like myself, scoff at the thought of sleeping during the day just to wake up foggy-headed and pillow-marked. But lately I have started to think an afternoon nap may not be so bad. After all, many studies have shown naps to increase energy, productivity, and creativity as well as stave off late evening drowsiness and decrease stress levels.

A well-placed power nap (about 20 minutes or less in length, ideally taken about 8 hours after rising) won't disrupt your usual sleep pattern, but it can provide you with more benefits than sleeping an additional 20 minutes in the morning (snooze-button hogs take note). Short naps are best for most people because they provide the biological benefits of sleep without letting our bodies get into the deep phases of sleep that are harder to awake from and cause grogginess. The upcoming weekend is a great time to give power napping a try. Go ahead and find a quiet, comfortable place where you can recline fully and make sure you set an alarm to prevent you from napping for more than 20 minutes. You may even want to block out a little additional time for your nap to allow yourself to fully relax by listening to music, reading, or practicing some deep breathing - as all of these activities are helpful for winding down before your snooze or waking up afterward.

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