Summer Siesta: Tips for the Best Nap Ever
For many people, summertime is the best napping season. This may be because the days tend to be longer, kids are out of school (and with never-ending energy!), and summer break usually means more time for rest and vacation. So how can you take advantage of those lazy summer afternoons? A summer siesta can help you reset, reenergize and gear up for the long summer afternoons and evenings.
A great nap should be done in the early afternoon, post-lunch and pre-afternoon coffee, if that’s your thing. If you end up snoozing too long, you may feel groggy rather than rested and reenergized – not the goal! Keep in mind that the point of your summer siesta is to relax and unwind, not fall into a deep sleep that will interfere with your sleeping at night. If you have children, you’re familiar with sleep interruptions and we could all use fewer of those. The following sleep tips will help you achieve the best sleep ever during your summer break:
Siesta length has to be limited
Keep your nap short and sweet. Experts say that a siesta length can have a big effect on your alertness after the nap, due to your individual sleeping cycle. A quick snooze should be between 10 and 26 minutes. Scientists at NASA found that pilot performance improved by 34 percent after a 26-minute siesta, which also improved alertness by 54 percent. There can be benefits to napping for longer if absolutely necessary – for example, if you need to improve your memory, napping for an hour is likely to trigger rapid eye movement, which can help. And a 90-minute snooze will mean you have completed a full sleeping cycle, which is thought to boost a person’s emotional and creative memory. Sleeping for longer than an hour and a half can negatively impact your sleeping pattern at night – so no hitting the snooze button on your alarm.
Align napping time with your wake up time
For many people, the best time to take a little siesta is between 1 and 3 p.m. However, if you normally have unusual sleeping schedules such as late nights or early mornings (here’s looking at you, parents with little ones), then you should align your napping with your wake up time – about 5-6 hours after waking up.
Stick to your schedule
For parents with babies, it is common knowledge that getting a baby to stick to a sleeping schedule is critical and so very helpful. This also applies to adults. Sleeping at the same time in the afternoon every day will help incorporate any extra sleep into an individual’s circadian rhythm. The body will start to note when naptime approaches, and it will be easier to nod off quicker.
Consider a 'caffeine nap'
This may sound counter-productive, but according to Japanese research, having a cup of coffee before napping may aid you in achieving optimal alertness. Caffeine takes between 20 to 30 minutes to take effect, so you could potentially feel more awake after a 20-minute snooze.
Lie down in a dark, quiet place
It takes so much longer to fall asleep when you’re sitting up than when you’re lying down – for some, up to 50 percent longer! Have you ever tried to take a quick nap on an airplane or while traveling sitting up? It’s uncomfortable and definitely not cozy. Your nap should be done in a go-to place that you find quiet, cozy and preferably dark – if you’re home, having a great, comfortable mattress can mean a world of difference in the quality of your afternoon siesta. If you’re outdoors, try a hammock nap – swinging in a hammock on a breezy day is nearly unbeatable.
Check your temperature
Along with a cozy bed and supportive mattress, air temperatures have also been found to be a contributing factor to a establishing a great sleeping environment. Experts suggest that the ideal temperatures are between 60 and 67 degrees. The cooler temps typically allow your body to get into sleep mode.
Try a new sleeping position – The Half-Crawl Military Position
According to Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Body, the half-crawl position trick is one of the best sleep tips to help you fall asleep faster for one simple reason – it’s almost impossible to move without lifting your entire body, and thus keeps you from fidgeting. You calm your nervous system and fall asleep quicker. To achieve this position, lie on your chest with your head facing to the right and on a pillow. Extend your arms straight at your sides, palms up. Then move your right arm up to have your right hand under your head. Bend your right knee to the right side so that it is approximately 90 degrees. Happy napping!
Head outside afterward
If after you have had your afternoon siesta and you still have time to go outside for a bit, do so. Spending some time outside in the sun has been said to lower blood pressure and reduce stress. Sunlight can increase your body’s serotonin production, which increases energy and lifts moods.
Take a stretch
Intentional breathing and stretching for a minute or two will help you restart your day. If you have some time for just one exercise, take deep breaths for about 30 seconds with your hands clasped behind your back. This stretching can help open up the chest to allow deeper and more invigorating breaths all through the afternoon.
If you can’t sleep – Enjoy the rest
Even if you can’t fall asleep, a 5 or 10-minute power nap and/or break can still be beneficial. There is absolutely some value in these kinds of super short naps. Taking a break in your day to focus on resting your body and mind can be essential. A study in 2002 showed that a 10-minute snooze helps you feel more alert, especially after a night of sleeplessness.
A summer siesta can be blissful – use our tips to get the most out of your afternoon and wake up refreshed and ready to take on the rest of your day.