Not all naps are created equal. Some naps have been shown to rejuvenate where others boost creativity. What's more, when you nap can be as important as how you nap. Here's how to nap like a professional, nap-taking machine. Here's how to nap like you MEAN IT.
Photo Credit: Kevin O'Mara | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Before we begin, we need to determine if you're napping for the right reasons. For that, we need to nail down your napping style. There are three basic categories of nap, according to the National Sleep Foundation. They are as follows:
The Planned Nap (aka "The Preparatory Nap") – It's Saturday afternoon. You're going out tonight. The last thing you want is to start dozing off at 8:30, so what do you do? You take a nap. It's 2:17, and you're not even that sleepy, really. But a short snooze now means more party-happy fun-time later. This is the planned nap. The responsible nap. The leisurely pursuit of prudent, dedicated partiers everywhere.
The Habitual Nap – A habitual nap is a nap you make time for regularly. Daily, semi-weekly, whatever. The point is that it's scheduled. It's a habit. The nap typically lasts for a set amount of time and takes place around the same time of day. Remember pre-school? Remember nap time? Remember how awesome that was? You may not have appreciated it at the time, but I bet you do now. Daily, school-mandated nap time is the last time the vast majority of us practiced habitual napping.
The Emergency Nap – Exactly what it sounds like. Unlike the planned nap, or the habitual nap, which you frequently indulge in even when you're not feeling particularly sleepy, emergency naps are taken out of bleary-eyed, foggy-headed necessity. They are a hallmark symptom of poor sleep hygiene, and they can strike at any time. (Note: Early-afternoon sleepiness is, for many people, normal, and should not be confused with the beckon of an emergency nap. For more, see WHEN TO NAP, below.)
If you're an emergency napper, you might want to stop reading. Go read this, instead. There's a good chance you've got bigger issues to deal with. Emergency naps can be bad news, especially if you find yourself resorting to them regularly. The fact that emergency naps tend to choose when you take them, instead of the other way around, is a good indication that your body needs more sleep, in general.