The ultimate guide to napping
Though most students tend to think they're already pretty good at it, we've got some unmissable tips and tricks for having the perfect nap. zzzZZZZZzzz.
Here at studentbeans.com we are big believers in the practise of napping. Many an essay or night out has been saved thanks to a tactical snooze over the years - and if you lot didn’t have such an unquenchable thirst for amazing deals and money saving advice we’d probably be napping right now!
To anyone who believes that napping is just a case of putting your head down for half an hour and closing your eyes - you couldn’t be more wrong. Napping is a science... no, napping is an art, and as such the perfect nap requires research, understanding, commitment, and maybe even a cup of coffee. Confused? Read on...
So... why nap?
Early morning lectures and late night social commitments mean that you can’t always get the eight hours we’re so often told that we need each night - as a result napping isn’t a luxury, but a requirement for a healthy and happy life.
A good nap in the middle of the day has been scientifically proven to:
- Reduce fatigue
- Restore alertness
- Enhance your mood
- Improve cognitive performance and memory
- Sharpen motor skills
- Decrease errors and accidents
Now that you’ve understood the importance of napping, the next step is to decide which type of nap is right for you.
The Power Nap - A short burst of sleep, barely 30 minutes in length, intended to help your restore your energy half way through the day.
The Disco Nap - Similar to a power nap, but taken immediately prior to a night out to ensure you have sufficient energy for an evening of shape-throwing. Particularly useful before a second consecutive night out.
The Caffeine Nap - Strange as it may seen, a cup of coffee before a nap is highly reccommened. Due to the fact that it usually takes caffeine around 30 minutes to take effect, you’ll be able to have a short nap before the coffee kicks in and acts as a natural alarm clock - you’ll come round feeling recharged and alert.
Nappapalooza - A personal favourite, this involves creating a soundtrack for your nap. Make a playlist roughly as long as the amount of time you want to sleep for and press play (on a low volume) as you put your head down, you’ll drift in and our of conciousness as the music plays, and - fingers crossed - when it finishes the shock of the silence will wake you up. Or at least that’s the idea.
The No-Nap Nap - Even just putting your head down for 20 minutes, without completely falling asleep, can put you in a better frame of mind. You'll get what's known as effective microsleep, or momentary lapses of wakefulness. Sounds fun, right?
That’s the lingo sorted - the next step is to make sure that you’re fully prepared and educated when it comes to ensuring the optimum pre-nap conditions. Follow the points in the checklist below and (once you’ve woken up) let us know how you got on. Happy napping!
Work out when you should nap
If you’re the kind of person that wakes up at 6am (do any students do that?) and goes to sleep around 9 or 10pm (OK, we know NO students do that) then your optimum napping time is around 1pm. If, however, you’re more traditional - waking up at 9am and going to bed at around midnight, then napping at about three o’clock in the afternoon is preferable.
Work out how long you should nap for
If you nap for less than 45 minutes you shouldn’t fall into a deep enough sleep that waking up is a chore, yet you will still feel rejuvenated. Anything between 45 minutes and 90 minutes, on the other hand, will see you waking up in your deepest sleep cycle, leaving you feeling groggy and sluggish for at least half an hour after you wake up.
If you sleep for 90 minutes or more, however, you will have passed through an entire sleep cycle and so should be able to wake up feeling totally rested - this is more of a full-blown sleep than a nap.
Don’t feel guilty
If you’re not used to napping, feeling guilty about getting back into bed during the middle of the day is a common problem, the stress of which can prevent you from drifting off. If you accept that napping will actually make you more productive when you wake up then you’ll see that it’s something that needs to be done rather than just a procrastination technique.
‘Fix’ a position
If you make a conscious effort to stay in one position as you drift off there’s a good chance that you’ll stay in the same position for the duration of your nap. It’s widely accepted that those who sleep on their side have the best naps - front-sleepers can suffer from neck and back pain, while sleeping on your back greatly increases your chances of snoring.
Try to avoid fatty or spicy foods just before a nap as they’ll certainly cause you problems. Contrary to popular belief, drinking alchohol before a nap is never a good idea - and in our experience can often turn a nap into a 12 hour sleep. Keeping cool is also vital, even though it’s the middle of the day feel free to lose some clothes - we won’t judge.
Create a comfortable napping environment
A cosy place in which to catch some Zs is vital. A good quality mattress, duvet, pillow combo is perhaps the key to a truly great nap. But failing any of these you could consider testing out a slanket or even a onesie... no one’s watching (probably).
Wake yourself slowly
Waking up when your body is in the lighter part of its sleep cycle is much more pleasant than being rudely awoken from a deep sleep. Using some pretty clever technology you can use your iPhone’s accelerometer to detect when you’ve entered this lighter phase, so when your alarm goes off you’ll be woken in a more natural way, leaving you feeling rested and relaxed. For more information check out our 12 best cheap health and fitness apps.
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