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The good news about napping—and the downsides of nodding off mid-day.

 

Sneaking in some sleep midday is linked to a long list of benefits, including improved mood, better memory, reduced fatigue, and even lowered blood pressure. In addition, while your body clock is set to help you feel alert in the morning and sleepy in the evening, it’s also programmed to make you feel naturally tired mid-afternoon, and a nap has been shown as the best way to cope with this fatigue.

That said, naps aren’t for everyone. Some people wake up from an afternoon snooze feeling groggier than they did before they fell asleep, and for others, napping can interfere with the quality of their nighttime sleep—especially if they already suffer from insomnia. And needing to take naps due to excessive daytime sleepiness may be a sign of an underlying health condition, such as Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, or depression. Talk to your doctor if you feel overwhelmingly exhausted during the day or if napping on a regular basis is a necessity for you. Otherwise, follow these tips to get the most from your nap:

1. Be Brief. The longer the nap, the worse you’ll feel when you wake up. Limit your snoozing to 30 minutes at the most.

2.Time Your Nap Carefully. While you may get the urge to nod off later or earlier some days, as a general rule of thumb it’s best to nap around 2:00pm or 3:00pm. This is usually an hour or two after lunch, when your blood sugar and energy level starts to dip. A quick nap at this time can help you feel more alert for the rest of the day without interfering with your nighttime sleep.

3. Set the Scene. Since you probably don’t have a lot of time allotted for your nap, it’s key to fall asleep as fast as possible. A cool, dark, quiet room will help you accomplish this.

4. Ditch the Guilt. Naps often get a bad rap, but they can actually improve your productivity, learning, and creative thinking. Whether you’re napping at home or during the workday, don’t feel bad about a little bit of midday shut-eye!