5 Essential Tips for Getting a Great Nap

Baby sleeping on a tiny bed

Katrina Elena/Shutterstock.com

Adults need naps, too, so make sure you get the most out of it.

You might be surprised to discover that great naps don’t just happen—there’s actually a strategy behind them! Researchers at Harvard have come up with the following five pointers for making the most of your afternoon shut-eye:

1. Keep it short

When it comes to naps, less is more. A 20- to 30-minute nap is actually more effective than a longer one, which can create a condition known as “sleep inertia”—the post-nap grogginess that can be difficult to get rid of.

2. Find a dark, cool, quiet place

Sure, a siesta in the sun sounds like a great idea, but one of the keys to a successful nap is being able to fall asleep quickly. Shutting out light and noise will help you nod off faster, and cool temperatures are also proved to help you fall asleep faster and more_comfortably.

3. Schedule it

If you wait until you’re nodding off at your desk (or, worse— in your car) to take a nap, you’ve waited too long. Not only will you lose productivity while fighting off sleep, chances are you’ll also be miserable. And, since we are creatures of habit, your body will welcome a regularly scheduled nap and will help you fall asleep faster and wake up more quickly.

4. Schedule the Starbucks, too

Since caffeine doesn’t hit your system immediately, some experts suggest drinking a caffeinated beverage right before your nap. A small Japanese study found that was the most restful combination because the sleep occurred just before the caffeine took effect. And, once the caffeine kicks in, you’re going to wake up easily!

5. Lose the guilt!

This might be the most important thing to keep in mind! Most of us are conditioned to believe that nodding off for 20 or 30 minutes in the middle of the workday seems like laziness, so adjust your thinking. The truth is, a well-timed nap can not only make you more productive at work and at home, it will also make you more enjoyable to be around!

From the June 2014 issue of Live Happy magazine.