*By Barbara Pronin, RISMedia Consumer Columnist
For some people, an afternoon nap is a signal you are losing your edge. For others –and not just for the elderly – naps can be a valued way of life. Most people, say the sleep experts at the Mayo Clinic, fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. But whether you’re sleep-deprived or looking for a way to relax, it’s good to understand when and how to get the most out of napping.
Napping offers various benefits for healthy adults:
Improved performance, including quicker reaction time, better memory,and fewer accidents or mistakes
Sleep inertia – some people may feel groggy or disoriented after napping
Nighttime sleep problems – while short naps do not generally affect nighttime sleep patterns, napping could worsen problems for those who generally sleep poorly.
The bottom line:
Experts agree you should consider taking a nap if you are not feeling well, if you are feeling unusually fatigued, or if you are about to experience sleep loss, such as having to work an unexpected night shift. Under normal circumstances, to get the most out of napping, consider these simple tips:
Keep it short – A 10 to 30 minute nap provides the best opportunity to wake up feeling refreshed – and some people claim that a 10-minute power nap dramatically increases productivity.
Make it restful – Nap in a dim, quiet place with few distractions and a comfortable temperature.
Time it right – The optimal time to nap is midafternoon, the time when you may experience after-lunch drowsiness or a lower level of alertness. Naps taken between 2 and 3 p.m. are less likely to interfere with nighttime sleep. Also, sticking to the same schedule is helpful if you plan to make napping a part of your daily routine.