I felt exhausted. I needed sleep if I was going to make it through the rest of the day. I was home, and my kids were occupied. I had the freedom to enjoy a little kip. Sweet, right? But, I didn’t want to risk waking up feeling more tired. Waking up from a nap like that is worse, a thousand times worse, than not napping at all.
I’m no sleep expert, but I’ve done some reading and experimenting with my own napping. Here is what I’ve discovered about how to wake up refreshed from a nap.
5 Keys to Wake up Refreshed from a Nap
- Time of day: It’s best to time naps before 5pm to avoid difficulty getting to sleep at night. An earlier bedtime means an earlier nap time.
- Duration: Nap into the 2nd stage of sleep but before deep sleep. Otherwise, nap through a complete cycle of sleep. A power nap takes around 20 minutes. A longer nap, but not a full sleep cycle, is up to 45 minutes. A full sleep cycle nap is up to 120 minutes. Avoid a nap that ends during deep sleep—waking up during deep sleep feels like getting up in the middle of the night.
- Darkness: Light disturbs sleep. Use light-blocking curtains* or an eye mask*. I made an eye mask with fabric scraps and use it for naps and at night. Check out this tutorial to make your own.
- Sound: White noise or calming sound can help you to fall asleep if a quiet house isn’t possible. I used the Power Nap app (below) for my white noise during my most recent nap.
- Temperature: Make yourself comfortable with a light blanket—not too hot or cold, like Goldilocks found on Baby Bear’s bed. Too cold will be uncomfortable. Too warm will invite deep sleep.
An app to help you nap
When I was thinking about taking a nap, I decided to check the App Store. I found Power Nap*. For a couple bucks, I was willing to give it a try.
I dialed the app to 45 minutes, turned on the white noise, and put my phone in my pocket (the app detects motion to determine level of sleep). I donned my eye mask and pulled up the covers. I woke up just shy of 45 minutes feeling a thousand percent better.
Are you exhausted and need a nap?
If you’re in need of a nap, do what you can to make it happen. Get help with the kids, if needed. Plan on getting a nap early in the afternoon, set your alarm (or use the app), get the room dark (or use an eye mask), put on white noice, and get comfortable. Wake up refreshed and face the rest of your day better.
Other resources about naps:
If you like coffee and naps, read about the Caffeine Nap. (I haven’t tried it, but it’s worth giving it a try at least once.)
The Boston Globe has an awesome infographic on How to Nap.
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