I’ve long admired those who nap, but I’ve always been someone who can’t. I can log a solid eight hours and get those five complete sleep cycles at night, no worries — I track my sleep religiously — but the day naps elude me.
When I confidently passed on this information to sleep expert Dr. Carmel Harrington at a recent Fitbit Ionic event, she told me I was wrong.
Saying you “can’t” nap, is essentially saying you can’t lay down and close your eyes. Because, as Dr. Carmel Harrington explained, you don’t need to sleep to feel the benefits of a nap. And it’s a long list of benefits.
“Twenty minutes is the ideal nap length,” said Dr. Carmel. “Set your alarm when you lay down, and if you only get a few minutes, or you don’t fall asleep at all, no big deal, get up when the alarm goes off.
The nap is still restorative because you get rid of a sleep chemical in your brain (adenosine). Just make sure when you get up you do star jumps or something quick and active to wake your body back up.”
So if you thought you were incapable of napping because you weren’t experiencing that plummet into deep sleep (guilty), you were wrong. In a nap, you’re aiming for that light sleep zone and even if you don’t drift off, you’re going to feel more productive, clear and help keep long-term issues of anxiety and depression at bay.
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