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How to Nap

Naps can be great, but there’s a few things you should know first.

Did you take a nap today? You probably should have. There is actually a lot of science behind it. Naps can add to your relaxation, reduce fatigue, increase alertness, improve mood, and improve reaction time and memory. There are downsides, too :mainly throwing off your sleep schedule, especially if you already have trouble sleeping.

When should you nap?taking a nap

When you feel the need. If you’re feeling tired or fatigued, you should nap.

When you know you’re not going to get your normal sleep cycle. Do you have to work late or a school project is keeping you up? Nap beforehand.

Studies show productivity and creativity drop drastically when you’re tired. A quick nap can restore you to almost brand new, allowing you to carry on much longer than if you pushed through. Basically, you’ll get the task done faster if you stop, nap, and go back at it; and it will be done better than if you’d just pushed through.

Events that change your sleep schedule can have lasting effects for days if you aren’t ready for it. Going to a concert? Work needs a late shift? Your best friend’s birthday? Take a nap a few hours beforehand and you’ll feel a lot better.

You can also just schedule a nap. If you know you get a little worn down about three in the afternoon, take a quick nap around then and be good to go!

Our society seems to think that if you’re not being productive, you’re wasting time. But often that isn’t the case. Forgoing rest to act productively can be much less productive (mind bending, huh?). Stop, rest, reset, and be better at what you’re doing.

How to nap

Napping isn’t as simple as laying down and falling asleep. We aren’t conditioned to sleep when we’re normally awake.

Step one for a nap should always be to set an alarm. A good nap should only be about 15 to 30 minutes; if you think you’ll magically wake up without an alarm, you’re wrong.

Lie down in the most comfortable place possible. If you can get in your bed, do it. If the best option is curled up in a corner, take it. The goal is to get as comfortable as possible, not forgo your nap because your ideal situation isn’t available.

Use an eye mask and earplugs, if you can. Pull a hoodie down low, use earphones, or wrap a jacket around your head. Again, we aren’t used to sleeping outside of our regular cycles, so anything you can do to eliminate light and noise—what you’re not used to sleeping through—is important.

When naps are bad

If you’re napping just because you have nothing to do, you’re probably only throwing off your sleep schedule. Insomnia or poor sleep, in general, can be exacerbated by napping.

You can be groggy or disoriented after a nap. Just like when you wake up after a full night’s sleep, it takes some time to become fully awake. If you’re napping with the intent of being more alert for a task, you’ll need a bit of a runway until you’re fully alert.

Overall, napping is a good thing. But like anything, if you overdo it, it becomes a problem. If you’re finding yourself always low on energy, constantly in need of sleep or a nap, talk to a doctor. We often think of sleep as this thing that naturally happens when our bodies need it. But that isn’t always the case. If you are having prolonged issues with sleep, call a healthcare provider. Ignoring a major issue like sleep problems is going to cost you a lot more in the long run than if you deal with it now.

So take care of yourself to be your best self.

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