This year has been a roller coaster, but if anything has been a constant it’s that each and every day makes you feel like you need a big ol’ nap. And we would never tell you not to. If you’re working from home, now might be the perfect time to incorporate a daily nap into your schedule (and if your boss gets grouchy about it, maybe she needs a nap of her own). But seriously, we can all use a little help getting some good rest. Read on.
Sleep has long been big business, but now companies are coming for your naps too. New establishments like Nap It Up in Toronto or Houston’s Nap Bar are banking that people will pay small fees for a clean, safe place to take a timed snooze. The virus has forced some to close temporarily or pivot to virtual events, apps or sleep boxes that you can order by mail to improve your napping-at-home experience.
2. When You’ve Finished Working Out
Sleep isn’t just a fun hobby, it’s also proven to boost your memory. So is exercise — and a Canadian study this year found out the two together are like chocolate and peanut butter. The perfect protocol was exercise followed by a nap: Participants who did both performed way better on memory exercises than people who did just one or the other. Good to know this works for adults as well as preschoolers.
3. Right After a Cup of Joe
It’s not that you should give up coffee if you want to get a good night’s rest. It’s just that you have to be strategic. With a classic “coffee nap,” you down your cup, then hop into bed for a snooze. After roughly 20 minutes, the caffeine will kick in to wake you up chemically, and you’ll feel refreshed instead of groggy, since napping for such a short spell will keep you from dipping into deeper sleep cycles. What’s more, scientific studies found that people who took such naps actually performed better at certain tasks than people who had only napped or only sipped coffee — making this the rare case where having your cake and eating it too is the optimal productivity boost.
4. While on Military Duty
If Uncle Sam’s OK with it... A new U.S. Army training manual has undergone a kinder, gentler overhaul — and now it actually recommends that soldiers nap wherever and whenever they can for enhanced physical performance and mental readiness. They’re also supposed to avoid video games, texting and drinking before bedtime, but hey, if you’re a civilian you can do those things if you want (though they aren’t likely to improve the quality of your sleep).
5. All Day Every Day
Now this is our kind of detox. Sleep retreats are the new frontier of relaxation tourism, encouraging people to not just bank some Zs but also to establish daily habits around sleep that contribute to healthier lives. There’s also a growing market for sleep-related wearables and apps that can help you track your sleep quality and cycles without the hefty expense of booking a visit to a wellness resort. Check out Sleep Cycle, for instance, which calculates when you’re in your lightest sleep phase before waking you with an alarm.
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The best time to schedule your daily nap (or occasional nap since you may not need one every day) is 3:00 p.m., according to the U.K.’s Sleep Council. While that’s not an option in most offices, a mid-afternoon, post-lunch lull is optimal because it’s responding to a dip in your natural circadian rhythm, making it the perfect time to recharge with a short snooze. But try not to sleep for much longer than, say, 20 minutes, because that could make you less tired at bedtime — or worse, leave you feeling fuzzy for the rest of the day.
2. What to Wear
We will not rest until everybody has one. The much-instagrammed nap dress strikes the right balance between something you could wear outside and clothes that are comfortable to doze in. The fancier versions will definitely make your catnap feel a little more like a Frederic Leighton painting, but you can also just use what you have without spending money on a special nap outfit. The sleeping naked debate doesn’t really apply here, as you’ll be napping rather than full-on sleeping, but as a small FYI: You get better temperature regulation when you sleep naked versus better hygiene when you don’t. No debate about the nap dress, though: It’s both trendy and timeless.
3. When Not to Do It
Canadian authorities recently arrested a guy in a self-driving Tesla for taking a nap while the car was on autopilot. It didn’t help that the unsupervised car was speeding — accelerating as police closed in. Still, there are times when sleeping at work is considered acceptable. Japan even has a word for it: inemuri, or “sleeping while present.” People ensconced in Japan’s notoriously sleep-deprived work culture can be caught practicing inemuri at their desks, in stores, on the subway or anywhere one could feasibly catch 40 winks. No scolding here: It’s considered a sign of diligence.
Not getting enough sleep is a real health hazard: It can contribute to obesity, poor health and productivity losses. But workplaces, aside from fancy-schmancy startups with sleep pods, haven’t really taken employee napping rights into account. So OZY has a radical but sensible proposal: Pay employees for time taken off to sleep, as it’ll work out as a financial benefit in the long run, given the positive effects on worker happiness, loyalty and efficiency.
Legendary painter Salvador Dali reportedly used to take siestas to stimulate his creative juices, taking micro-naps sitting upright in a chair while holding a key. When he dozed off, the key would clatter to the ground, waking him up, and then he’d embrace the weird ideas that had formed in his brain while drifting off. We, too, have visions of melting clocks right at the beginning of naps, Salvador.
6. If You Can’t Bring Yourself to Do It
We get it: Napping isn’t for everyone. But you can combine a workout (sort of) and a nap by doing yoga nidra, aka restorative or sleep yoga. It’s a type of guided-meditation-meets-deep-relaxation that some practitioners claim is as restful as several hours of sleep. That’s still unproven, but it’ll certainly relax you if you give over 30 minutes a day to snoozy exercise.
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Researchers in China recently announced that long daytime naps — those that last an hour or more — are associated with an increased risk of heart disease and a 30 percent higher risk of death. Even those who took shorter naps were more likely to die than those who didn’t take any naps, though that doesn’t mean naps themselves are deadly … it may just mean that those in poor health are more likely to take them. The same study found that short naps could be beneficial for the heart if people aren’t getting enough sleep at night, while a separate study found that midday napping in older people was strongly associated with “successful aging.”
2. Those Who Should Not Nap
There are people who shouldn’t take naps, according to some experts. Those suffering from short-term insomnia, for example, are likely to keep themselves from sleeping at night if they drop off during the day. And if you try to nap and find you’re unable to, you can gain a similar benefit by just quieting your mind. Using the time to stare at the sky instead of your phone may not be as restful as an actual nap, but it’ll give your brain a restorative little break nonetheless.
3. Show Us the Money
Money isn’t everything, but new research from MIT might just convince you to give napping a shot. A paper published this year found that people who started taking daily 30-minute naps were not only more productive at their work — they also put more of their money in savings accounts. Another group was given the opportunity to sleep a bit longer at night, but it didn’t yield the same benefits.