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Why napping is actually a good thing

I am definitely one for taking a nap. I remember even when I was younger enjoying taking a nap, I wasn't one of those kids who you see trying to be put into bed for a little nap and fighting it, I was all for taking a little mid-afternoon snooze.

It's now twenty something years later and I still enjoy taking a nap. I had a conversation with my other half about how napping was actually beneficial to you and how it helps you recharge and adjusts any lapses in concentration you might be having and he didn't believe me. So I thought I'd do a little benefits of napping style post plus a few tips & tricks to napping.

To start with there are several studies that show that napping is actually beneficial to us, especially if you're the type of person who is pretty much always on the go. A short 15-20 minute nap, without reaching REM sleep (deep sleep), is shown to increase your alertness, concentration, productivity and will actually boost your mood, too.

Sleeping longer than 30 minutes runs the risk of falling into a REM sleep without having enough time to come back out of it again which can result in sleep inertia, the feeling of grogginess after a short sleep. To avoid this feeling, if I know I'm going for a nap I'll generally set an alarm on my phone for around 25 minutes, which gives me enough time to fall asleep and wake up again before reaching REM. After my nap I carry on doing what I was doing before hand whilst having a fresh boost of energy to continue or it'll motivate me to start a new task I might have been putting off.

I've generally found I nap in two ways, although I'm sure there are more ways and reasons for taking a quick sleep.

Planned napping - You know you'll have a small window of time available during the day where you could squeeze in a small 15-20 minute nap and you do this to recharge your batteries.

Unplanned napping - This can happen when you're in the middle of a task and you feel that familiar wave of drowsiness sweeping over you. You literally cannot continue performing whatever function you were doing and involuntary napping swiftly becomes the only option.

I know I've overdone it when I end up napping without planning it. This tends to be if I've been busy for too long without taking a break and doing something strenuous, I'll start to feel my eyelids closing without having any control. I'll quickly set an alarm on my phone and give into a short nap, waking refreshed and ready to continue.

I honestly believe that, as an adult, taking a nap is very beneficial, so here are a few tips to help you get into the goodness that is napping.

1. Try and control your environment where possible. Reducing any background noise, adjusting the light so it's bit softer, making sure the room is at a comfortable temperature etc. This will help you fall asleep quicker and ensure you don't wake in the middle.

2. Position yourself where your head is supported. Lying flat out is generally the best way for this, but in situations where this isn't possible, proper support for your head and neck will allow you to switch off properly without worrying about propping yourself up for twenty minutes.

3. Stop thinking about whatever you're thinking about. Easier said than done in most cases, but the quicker you can quiet your mind, the more beneficial your nap will be and you'll be able to fall asleep faster, too.

There can be downsides to napping, so for clarity, I'll mention them too. Some people struggle with the ability to switch off so when napping comes into it, it ends up being to difficult to fall asleep resulting in frustration and potentially a further dip in concentration and productivity. It can also be difficult for people who can't avoid falling into REM sleep and therefore results in sleep inertia which can be very off-putting for people after they wake up.

However, if you can train yourself to take short and quick naps, this will help your self-control as well as giving you that little energy boost everyone seems to need these days.

Let me know that I'm not the only twenty-six year old who still enjoys taking naps!

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