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May 31st, 2016

Don’t Let This Advice for Catching up on Sleep Find You Napping

By In the Loop

Napping for up to 30 minutes between the hours of noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday will help you get that feeling of catching up without blowing your entire circadian rhythm.It's not often a nap-related article sneaks past us. We feel a little bad, however, that we didn't see a Lifehacker article on weekend napping until right after a long holiday weekend. Called "Classic Hacks: Try A Weekend Afternoon Nap To Catch Up On Sleep," the brief piece includes practical advice from Bernie Miller of the Sleep Disorders Center at Mayo Clinic's Arizona campus. We'd like to put his tips into practice as soon as we're able.

Miller suggests that "napping for up to 30 minutes between the hours of noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday will help you get that feeling of catching up without blowing your entire circadian rhythm." (We're setting aside the hours before noon to get the hammock out of storage. And googling "circadian rhythm.") The Lifehacker folks note that "there's always a temptation to sleep late on the weekends" to catch up. However, that can leave you feeling "more tired on Monday morning" by "mucking with your regular weekday sleep schedule."

This got us thinking that we should fine-tune our napping habits. Thankfully, we found an article titled "Napping: Do's and don'ts for healthy adults" from Mayo's napping experts (also known as sleep specialists). Naps, the article says, offer benefits such as relaxation, reduced fatigue, increased alertness, and improved mood, performance and memory. (And you get to nap.) Apparently, there are some potential drawbacks. Napping can result in sleep inertia — feeling groggy and disoriented after waking up from a nap — and nighttime sleep problems. Short naps, however, generally don't affect nighttime sleep quality.

Here are some pro tips to help you get the most out of a nap:

  • Keep naps short. Aim to nap for only 10 to 30 minutes. The longer you nap, the more likely you are to feel groggy afterward.
  • Take naps in the afternoon. The best time for a nap is usually midafternoon, around 2 or 3 p.m. This is the time of day when you might experience post-lunch sleepiness or a lower level of alertness. In addition, naps taken during this time are less likely to interfere with nighttime sleep.
  • Create a restful environment. Nap in a quiet, dark place with a comfortable room temperature and few distractions.
  • Give yourself time to wake up before resuming activities — particularly those that require a quick or sharp response.

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Tags: Bernie MIller, Patient Stories, Sleep Disorders Center

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