The Do's and Don't of Napping

It’s that time of year again: a grey mist has fallen upon Victoria, the stress of your course load is kicking in, and you just can’t seem to make it through the whole day without thinking about how nice it would be to curl up under a blanket for a little extra shut-eye. Recently, I could not relate to this sentiment more. I frequently find myself seeking out spots on campus to take a little power nap between classes.

When I discussed this with a few of my friends, many of them said, “I can never nap during the day—it ruins my sleep or I wake up more groggy than before.”

Rather than just assume I was some nap champion extraordinaire, I decided to do a little research on how you should nap for maximum effectiveness. Well, friends, it turns out that there is indeed a right way and a wrong way to nap. I have put together a list of dos and don’ts of napping to help you achieve that perfect amount of rest.

 

Do set a timer

The amount of time you nap for is crucial to how rested you will feel after you nap. Napping for four hours is no longer a nap; that’s just sleeping. If you do this, you will likely wake up feeling groggy. I find 20–25 minutes is perfect for me to get the little bit of extra rest I need without waking up more tired than before.

 

Don’t take a nap in the evening

While I have no exact cutoff time for when you should stop napping, just based on personal experience, having a nap any later than 6 p.m. is not effective. Chances are you’ll just end up falling asleep and waking up around 10 p.m., wide awake and wondering why you thought it was a good idea to take a nap so late in the evening.

 

 

Do drink a cup of coffee before you nap

While this might seem counterintuitive, believe me that this method works great. Basically, the short version of why this works is that the caffeine does not start to kick in until around 10–20 minutes after you drink it. So if you nap for roughly 20 minutes, when you wake up, the caffeine will be going strong and you’ll be ready to take on the rest of your to-do list.

 

Don’t keep sleeping if you wake up naturally, or can’t fall asleep

If you go to take a nap and you just can’t seem to fall asleep, or if you wake up early from your nap, do not keep sleeping. This is a sign that you don’t really need the rest at that point in time. Sure, it can be easy to just keep lying there until you do fall asleep, but chances are you’ll be throwing off your sleep cycle and you won’t really feel refreshed from your nap.

 

Do take a nap if you’re tired

This one is pretty obvious, but if you find that you’re struggling to keep your eyes open, JUST TAKE A NAP. Rather than struggle through the rest of your day in a sleepy state, get the extra 15–20 mins you need to be as productive as possible.

 

That’s my quick list of dos and don’ts of napping. If you have any pro napping tips, I’d love to hear them.

Sweet dreams!