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5 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Nap

By Amber Page

New research shows that napping is not only a great way to get a few extra Zzz's, it's good for your heart health!

A recent study that followed 3,500 people in Switzerland for five years found that people who napped once or twice a week had a lower rate of cardiovascular disease.

Sounds like a great excuse to start napping doesn't it? But before you hit the pillow for a mid-afternoon snooze, make sure you're doing what you need to get the most out of your nap.

Set an Alarm

While it might be tempting to snooze the afternoon away, studies have shown that the best naps are less than 30 minutes long -- and ideally last no more than 25 minutes. Any longer than that and you'll wake up groggy, likely feeling less rested than you did before.

Drink a Cup of Coffee

Really, it's a good idea! Coffee takes about 25 minutes to kick in, so if you drink your afternoon cup before laying down, you'll wake up feeling alert and ready to go.

Pick the Right Time

Try not to drop off any later than 2:30 p.m., so you can be up and moving by 3 p.m. If you nap much later than that, you risk the chance of disrupting your nighttime sleep schedule -- meaning you'll be even more tired the next day.

Find the Right Surroundings

Finding dark in the middle of the day might be challenging, but try to pick an area that's cool, relatively dim, and quiet. 

To fake it, invest in a good sleep mask and maybe even a set of noise-cancelling headphones.

While you might think you need to lie down to nap, try sleeping in a chair instead. That will make it easier to wake up when your alarm goes off. Plus, if you're at work, it's much easier to find a comfy chair than it is a horizontal surface you can lay on.

You could even try putting your head down on your desk if you're stuck in a cubicle.

All Set? It's Time to Relax

After all this setup, your brain might be whirling -- making sleep difficult to find. Try some meditation techniques to quiet your mind and try to put everything else aside.

And don't worry -- even if you don't manage to fall asleep, that 20 minutes of downtime will have you feeling more alert and energetic for the rest of the afternoon.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in New Braunfels, Texas.

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