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The Secret to De-Stressing Before Bedtime

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Whether you didn’t log as many hours of sleep as you wanted to last night or you just feel more tired than usual, a 20-minute nap may be just what you need. In that short amount of time, you can improve your mood and energy level, and make it easier to focus and perform tasks.

While napping sounds simple, there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure that you do it the right way. First up, keep your nap to around 20 minutes—any longer means that you may wake up feeling groggier than before. Then, you’ll want to time it for the early or mid afternoon—between 2:00pm and 3:00pm works best for most people. You’ll also want to follow these other tips to get the most out of your next nap.

  1. Limit the noise. Silence is golden when it comes to settling in for a nap. That’s why it’s a good idea to turn off your phone and pop in a set of earplugs. Happen to be attempting a nap where there’s a ruckus outside? You might need to upgrade to noise-canceling headphones. You can spend hundreds of dollars on a pair, but there are also less expensive options.
  2. Reduce ambient light. It’s a lot harder to fall asleep when the sun is in your eyes. Turn off the lights, close the curtains, and, if that doesn’t do enough, put on an eye mask.
  3. Get comfortable. You don’t need to fully get into your pajamas, but at least take off your shoes. If you don’t want to go barefoot—like on an airplane—slip on some soft, foldable travel slippers.
  4. Rest your head. Lying down flat is best, but you don’t need to get fully horizontal—the key is supporting your head. A neck pillow can nestle your head comfortably even if you’re sitting upright.
  5. Relax your mind. One of the hardest things about napping in the middle of the day is how many thoughts can be running through your head and making it more difficult to unwind. Try to quiet your thoughts by thinking about a happy place—maybe waves crashing on a beach—or relaxing your body bit by bit, starting at your head and moving down to your feet.