7 Benefits of a Midday Nap

Nap© Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Thinkstock

As if you needed another reason to make time for a siesta, recent studies from UC Berkeley, Harvard University, and the University of Athens in Greece show that naps of up to 90 minutes help build and boost brain power, benefit mental health, and reduce the risk of death from heart disease in men. Follow these tips to reap the greatest benefits from your midday nap:

Plus: Smart Strategies for a Better Night’s Sleep

1. Set your alarm
Naps lasting 60 to 90 minutes trigger rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which helps create and improve memory. But if you snooze past 90 minutes, you’ll enter a new sleep cycle and won’t get any additional benefits. Plus, napping too long can affect your nighttime sleep.

2. Time it right
Don’t take a nap within three hours of your bedtime, or you’ll rob yourself of nighttime sleep. The best time to nap is between 1:00 and 3:00 PM, (although we know that’s not realistic for many people).

3. Cozy up
Your body temperature drops when you sleep, so pull on a blanket. But make sure it’s not too heavy, or you can oversleep!

Plus: Sleep and Diet: Eating to Sleep Well

4. Eliminate light
Light may inhibit sleep, so close the curtains, wear an eye mask, and turn off electronic devices.

5. Quiet the noise
If you’re trying to snooze in a noisy environment, pop in earplugs or turn on a white-noise machine.

6. Ease into sleep
Breathe slowly and deeply to calm your body. Try to relax your muscles one group at a time. Quiet your racing mind by repeating a mantra or taking a “mental walk” at a relaxing place like a beach or a meadow. Or, employ the age-old strategy—counting sheep (or puppies, or bunnies…you get the drift).

7. Pencil in your siestas
Try to stay on a regular nap schedule. Not only will you start to fall asleep faster, you’ll also get regular benefits from your midday naps. Plus, you’ll be more likely to make time for a snooze if you build it into your schedule. Sweet dreams!

Plus: Improve Your Sleep

Sources: costcoconnection.com, WebMD.com, The Boston Globe

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