You know you should be getting eight hours of sleep each night to be at your best everyday. However, between classes, clubs, sorority involvement and maintaining a social life, we know a classy co-ed may sometimes fall short of this standard. Napping may seem like a quick fix to make up for lost sleep, and to some extent it may be. Naps have been proven to help with stress, allowing your body to relax and your mind to clear. A light nap can be similar to a meditative experience, giving you the ability to consider problems with more clarity. If being tired makes you grouchy, overwhelmed and easily frustrated, a nap may be just what you need to improve your mood and stay sharp. And ultimately, how else are you going to survive the inevitable all-nighters?
While napping has its perks, remember that it’s no substitute for a good night’s sleep. Routinely skimping on sleep will take its toll on your mood, body and mind. Keep these tips in mind for napping effectively.
1) Timing- Do not take naps too close to bedtime or you could have trouble falling asleep later. Napping in the afternoon is best; we are actually biologically programmed to feel sleepy after lunchtime just like many animals are.
2) Environment- It takes 50 per cent longer to fall asleep sitting up. Nap somewhere you can lie down in a dark, quiet environment with no distractions. Try earplugs or an eye mask if you can’t nap in the comfort of your own bedroom. Also, be mindful of maintaining the optimal body temperature. Becoming overheated can cause you to oversleep.
3) Length- While napping for 90 minutes can increase creativity and replace sleep lost the night before, experts seem to agree that the 20-minute nap is usually best. This amount of time will make you more alert and keep you from waking up groggy, a side effect of entering deep sleep. Some even find naps shorter than this to still be effective.
4) Relax- If you allot yourself a napping time, it would be a waste to spend that time just trying to fall asleep. Update your to-do list before napping so you don’t lie awake and think of everything you ‘should’ be doing. Try breathing exercises, or download an app of relaxing sleep sounds.
5) Waking up -Schedule something for after your nap so you are not tempted to go back to sleep. My roommate and I found that being napping partners was not the best idea. It would be wiser to have a friend come knock on your door or wake you up with a phone call. Finally, don’t get too comfortable for a short nap if you know you need to be up in half an hour.
Again, there is nothing wrong with an occasional nap, but make sure you are sleeping enough at night too. Try these tips for sleeping well at bedtime. Still having trouble? See your doc to make sure it isn’t anything more serious, like a thyroid condition.