The Right Way to Take a Nap
Taking a nap has many benefits for your body and immune system. Not just for children, naps protect you from cardiovascular diseases, improve memory, stimulate creativity and help you get to sleep at night. To fully enjoy all its advantages, find out the right way to take a nap.
The right way to take a nap: what you need to know
A nap is also known as a “siesta,” taken from the Latin word sexta, meaning the sixth hour of the day. It’s a moment that you take during the day to relax and get away outside of normal sleeping hours. This rest time is good for anyone, from newborns to the elderly. In your everyday life that’s based around your work schedule, recurring appointments, trips and household chores, knowing how to take a break for a few minutes is important. Naps not only help you get back your concentration so that you can stay alert and keep your energy levels up, but also boost your mood.
- How long should you nap?
Sleeping too long during a nap can backfire, making you even more tired. It’s important to pay attention to how long your nap is. If it’s longer than 20 minutes, you’ll go into a deep sleep and disrupt your sleep cycle. To get to sleep fast, it’s better to opt for 5 to 20 minutes of rest. A scientific study shows that sleeping 20 minutes in the early afternoon is a must for reducing your noradrenaline levels. This stress-activated hormone increases your heart rate and blood pressure as well as your blood sugar.
- When should you nap?
Ideally you should doze off after lunch, around 2 pm. It’s usually hard to concentrate after lunch because your body has started to digest your food. Napping enables your body to do its job and start up again refreshed after you wake up. If you take a nap after 5 pm, you may have trouble falling asleep when it’s time to go to bed.
- Where should you nap?
In the office, at home or on the bus, you can nap wherever you see fit.
The right way to take a nap: A how-to
To take a nap, you just need to lie down or get into a position that’s comfortable enough for you to relax. The FizzUp trainer recommends taking off your shoes, loosening your tie or unbuttoning the top of your shirt to make breathing easier. Then close your eyes to fully enjoy a relaxing moment to yourself. Once your body is rested, your nap also restores your interleukin-6 levels. This is an antiviral protein found in your saliva, which is vital for staying in perfect health.
Stretch out your legs for maximum comfort and allow your body to relax naturally. On public transportation, it’s best to put your elbows on your knees and rest your head in your hands. At work, cross your arms on your desk and use them as a pillow for your forehead.
The FizzUp trainer suggests isolating yourself so that you’re not disturbed by noises coming from the outside. Feel free to use an eye mask or earplugs. Turn off your phone and let your colleagues or family know that you don’t want to be disturbed for 30 minutes.
Focus on your breathing to make sure it’s slow, smooth and natural. Forget about urgent matters at work and everything that’s happening around you. Relax your muscles to relieve tension throughout your body. You can also do a few exercises to help your muscles relax:
- Relax your jaw
- Gently rotate your neck, shoulders, arms, ankles and wrists
- Do a few stretching exercises that you learned from the trainer with the Stretching Add-on* to relax your back
- Move your fingers to loosen them up
Visualize each part of your body being pulled down one after the other by gravity. Imagine feeling a warming sensation in every part, starting from your head to your feet. Keep your eyes closed and rotate with your eyeballs 10 times in one direction, then 10 times in the other. Finally, rotate your eyeballs upward. With regular fitness training, you’ll notice that it’s easier to unwind.
The right way to take a nap: don’t forget your alarm clock
To enjoy the benefits of the nap and be ready to attack the rest of your day, setting your alarm clock is vital. To do this, set your alarm clock to make sure you don’t sleep for more than 20 minutes. As time goes on, you’ll be able to wake up on time by yourself without having to set it.
Take a few deep breaths before you get up. Gently move your fingers, toes and head. Sit comfortably to regain your bearings, gently massage your face and have a stretch. Now you should be in better spirits. If you don’t feel like you can fall asleep in the beginning, just give it a few more tries and eventually you’ll have no problem.
Now you know the right way to take a nap. Give it a try this afternoon, along with a meditation session to relieve stress and muscle tension.
*FizzUp PRO features
Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, February 10, 2015