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While napping might sound like something that only babies do, many leading sleep researchers actively promote the power nap as a great way of recharging the batteries if you are feeling tired. However, as with anything, there may be a negative effect, as if you oversleep you will only end up making yourself more tired.
All of us have had those days where we struggle to get through, our eyelids heavy and our thoughts slow. Few of us will take time out to have a nap though. However, the science shows that if done correctly, a good nap can refresh and rejuvenate, improving your concentration and outlook. Yet, make sure your nap is only a nap as oversleeping will only make you feel worse.
The key to a good nap is timing. To understand why this is the case you need to know about the stages of sleep. Sleep is not a uniform state but rather a number of stages, or phases during the night, each with its different qualities. There are four stages altogether. The first is the transitory period between being awake and asleep, this may last anywhere between 20 and 50 minutes. This time period is critical as if you wake once you have passed from the first to the second stage you will feel more tired and exhausted than you were before. This is due to the next stage being a far heavier sleep state where the brain is preparing itself to go further down into sleep. That is why it is important to have an alarm set when you are trying to nap.
If you want to master the art of the nap there are a few things you can do. As well as setting an alarm, you should buy an eye mask and ear plugs so that you can cut off all potential noise and light. You need to make yourself as comfortable as possible. If you cannot lie on your bed then you can try to get as comfortable as you can in your chair or even on the floor, if you are tired enough it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Then try to clear your mind, don’t think about anything if you can help it, try to drift off. There are a number of different methods of calming your body and mind, including tensing and relaxing muscles one-by-one or imagining yourself on a beach. Find a method that works and practice at it, it will take time to master it but it can be done. Also, if you are planning on doing it at work you might want to talk to your boss about it first. Explain to him or her that a short nap will actually increase your productivity.
Power napping is a great way of recharging the batteries during the day if you are feeling tired, but never do it for more than 20-30 minutes as if you oversleep you will only end up making yourself more tired.
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