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11th Feb 2018

Apparently We’ve All Been Napping Wrong – Here’s How To Fix It

James Fenton

We’re all guilty of taking the odd nap after work, at weekends, while commuting and pretty much whenever we manage to get five minutes to ourselves during the day. 

The idea is basically to recharge our batteries and re-energise us for the rest of the day before going to sleep that night. Kind of like a practice bedtime, some might say. However, why do we sometimes wake up feeling more tired and grumpier than before? 

Sticking the head down for forty winks has never seemed like a difficult task but according to sleep expert Chris Winter, we’ve been doing it all wrong. 

He told Men’s Health that there are three major mistakes all nappers are making and how to rectify them for future snoozes. 

1. You’re not setting an alarm

Dr. Winter says that defining a certain timeframe will train your brain to expect rest for that amount of time. He recommends either napping for 20 minutes or 90 minutes. The former because it’s just enough time to power down your cortisol (hormone responsible for your stress response) and the latter because it’s how long your full sleep cycle—including REM sleep, when you dream — lasts and if you wake up during it, your brain doesn’t have time to adjust. 

Just make sure not to press snooze

2. You laze around before or after your nap

Dr. Winter recommends partaking in some light outdoor activity before or after your nap. He says that you need to ‘establish enough “wake time” before you actually nod off.’

3. You’re napping at random times

Much like going to bed at the same time every night, naps can help to develop good sleep hygiene. Dr. Winter says that a scheduled nap will work over a spontaneous one every time. 

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