Disclaimer: this guide is not a replacement for actual medical advice. We can’t promise it will transport you into a magical utopian dimension where everything is fine, and no-one is ever tired or stressed again, but knowledge is power and we want to give you the power to take a dang good nap.
Importance of Naps
Good naps can increase alertness, improve your memory, and boost your problem-solving skills and creativity.
Napping can be healthier than compensating for tiredness with caffeine (although we won’t judge you if you still want a coffee afterwards) and can also lead to more alertness and better mood.
However, if you suffer from insomnia or have trouble sleeping at night, napping is probably a bad idea. It can confuse your body clock, disrupt an already dysfunctional routine, and lead to even less sleep at night.
The length of your nap is one of the key factors to having a good time vs a groggy time.
30 minutes or less is ideal because (science alert!) your brain never advances past the early stages of light sleep.
But how do I make sure I don’t dive into the realm of deep sleep?
Set an alarm! This might seem obvious, but for most people it's difficult to wake up when you intend to. Longer naps can make you feel woozy for longer.
Find a dark, comfortable, quiet place.
You may feel tired enough to fall asleep anywhere but making sure you have an ideal spot will increase the quality of sleep, which is what napping is all about.
Most people feel a dip in energy six or seven hours after they wake up. This is usually around 1-3pm.
How do I determine the best time to nap?
If you could plan your own day, what time would you wake up and go to bed?
If you want to wake up early, around 6am and go to sleep around 9pm or 10pm, your nap will probably need to be around 1pm or 1.30 pm.
If you prefer bedtime after midnight or 1am, and wake around 8am or 9am, your nap time will be closer to 2.30pm or 3pm.
Don’t leave it too late though – napping after 3 pm could have an adverse effect on your night’s sleep.
Napping is a skill; you learnt it as a baby, and many of us have forgotten the art.
It takes patience and perseverance to learn to nap well. If you can’t fall asleep in time, or if your alarm goes off and you don’t feel like a new person, that’s okay – try again tomorrow.
For more wellbeing resources and tips, take a look at our Small Things Matter webpage, and follow @aubsu_matter on Instagram.
In case you don’t believe us, here’s where we got our top-secret info: