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Interrupted Sleep: What Happens To Your Body

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Learn how to use daytime sleep to boost both energy and productivity.

Think napping is only for the preschool and under set? Think again. Naps can be a boon for both your health and your productivity—a big reason some companies are making daytime sleep a part of their corporate ethos. A power nap is a nap that’s long enough to get you through the day, but not so long that it makes you groggy or unable to sleep at night. For a nap that will power you up, follow these simple rules.

Set an Alarm.

Twenty minutes is the sweet spot for nap length if you want to wake up feeling alert, cheerful, and productive. Unlike at night when the goal is longer stretches of continuous sleep that will give you the restorative benefits of deep REM sleep, keeping naps to lighter, non-REM sleep will help ensure that you wake up bright-eyed. If you’ve got even more time, lucky you. But go big or go home: 30- to 60-minute naps are likely to leave you feeling worse, while a 90-minute nap gives you enough time for a complete, creativity-building sleep cycle.

Maximize Efficiency.

To make your naptime as productive as possible, it’s important to get straight to business—that is, fall asleep fast. To help you do that, rest in a cool, dark room that’s free from distractions. Power down your phone, and try using props like a noise conditioner or sleep mask if you can’t escape ambient noise and light. In an office? Consider hanging a do-not-disturb door sign to keep colleagues at bay.

Time it Right.

An hour or two after lunch is a natural time to nap since your blood sugar and energy levels drop. Instead of topping off your coffee when this afternoon lull hits, consider a nap to perk up your afternoon without interrupting your nighttime sleep. (And if you do need another splash of caffeine, have it before your nap so you’ll wake up feeling the effects.)

Get Back in Action.

After your 20 minutes is up, get right back to whatever you were doing before the nap. Get some sunlight on your face, take a brisk walk, jump in place, or splash some water on your face to let your body know that nap time is over.