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Tips for the Perfect Nap

By Chris Brown

Sleep is the keystone of a healthy body and mind. By tapping into sleep's benefits, its cousin, the nap, has been shown to greatly improve cognition and mood. There are many reasons for taking a midday nap according to SleepFoundation.com: to recover from poor sleep, to aid the body in fighting illness, or simply for the pleasure of a rejuvenating break. Naps are additionally excellent for creativity and brainstorming. Einstein famously induced nap states to discover new insights to problems. While we may not all be attempting to mathematically define the concept of relativity, anybody can benefit from the power of a nap. By following a few tips to optimize naptime, one can be on the way to a more focused, alert life.

The Perfect 20-Minute Nap 

The perfect nap is one in which the napper wakes feeling rested, renewed, and alert. Naps too short or too long can either not provide enough rest or increase grogginess (due to an effect called sleep inertia).  Many studies have been conducted to find the perfect nap length and concurred on 10-20 minutes. Naps over 30 minutes were found to bring sleepers into a deeper sleep, which often caused the dreaded post-nap grogginess when awakened.

5 Tips for Better Napping

In addition to a 20-minute alarm, these five tips can help give you the nap you've been dreaming of:

  • Chug a mug of coffee before lying down - As counterintuitive as it sounds, drinking coffee is one of the priceless napping tips that I've discovered in my lifetime. I've never wakened more alert and rested than a nap following a cup of caffeinated fuel. This scientifically works because caffeine takes around 20 minutes to kick in (which just so happens to be the perfect nap length) meaning that coffee's energy hits just as the body has finished its light rejuvenation.
  • Nap above the covers - A trick I use to help psychologically keep my nap in a light, rather than deep, sleep is to nap above the covers. I found that napping in a way that slightly differs from my nightly sleep helps to subconsciously keep me from dozing too deep.
  • Nap in the early afternoon - While there is no set time of day to nap, studies have found that napping after 3 p.m. affects sleep.
  • Put your phone to nap as well - The last thing you want is a sudden call or text mid-nap. To avoid this, put your phone into airplane mode and turn off Wi-Fi. Using noise reduction headphones can further prevent noise disturbances.
  • Don't nap if trying to establish a new sleep rhythm - The one downside of a nap is that it can potentially disrupt nightly sleep. If you're setting a new sleep rhythm, such as when visiting a new time zone, napping may extend jet lag. So avoid the tempting midday naps when in a new location until your sleep pattern is established.

If back or joint pain is keeping you restless and napless, visit The Joint Chiropractic for an adjustment to return your rejuvenating sleep. Walk-ins are welcome and sessions are affordable without insurance. So stop by one of The Joint's 500-plus locations today to wake rested tomorrow.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Athens, Ga.

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