The pandemic has divided the global population into two camps: Team Insomnia and Team Sleeping Better than Ever. If you fall into the latter team, we congratulate you on your achievements and wish you well. There is nothing here for you.
If, on the other hand, your sleep quality feels like it has been irrevocably ruined by the past year’s constant stream of ominous news, incendiary headlines, changing norms and shifting standards, this is for you. You deserve a nap. This is how you’re going to get one.
Why do I need a nap?
For many reasons! If you’re not sleeping well at night, the repercussions on your physical and mental health are significant. It’s not just the fatigue – lack of sleep has been linked to high blood pressure, memory issues, weight gain, compromised immunity, even a greater risk of heart disease. (Here’s some more heavily researched reading on the matter, courtesy of the Sleep Foundation.)
But we’re not here to scaremonger. We’re here to help you have a nap. And even without the wider health implications, a quick 10 minute snooze can help you reset your day, boost your energy and give you some mental clarity.
When should I nap?
In an ideal world you would nap in the early afternoon, between 2pm and 3pm, to reduce the chances of your nap interfering with the quality of your nighttime sleep. You would also nap at the same time every day, establishing a regular nap routine for optimum sleep quality.
In our current messed-up life, this may not be possible. Maybe you’ve got home-schooling responsibilities on top of your work hours; maybe your work is irregular and often comes in at the last minute – there are plenty of reasons why a busy adult would not be able to carve out a specific time every day for the luxury of napping. But don’t give up on naps just because you can’t commit to napping at the same time every day. Even an irregular nap is better than no nap – just try not to nap just before bedtime.
How long should I nap?
In an ideal world the optimum nap length is 10–20 minutes. Long enough to refresh you, not long enough to plunge you into a groggy afternoon of sleep inertia (that zombie-like feeling when you’ve had to be shaken out of a deep sleep).
In 2021 reality, just take what you can get. Maybe that’s five minutes of shut-eye in between afternoon calls; maybe it’s an hour in a darkened room where you drift off after scrolling on Instagram for half an hour.
Where should I nap?
In an ideal world, none of these nap conditions would surprise you. The best naps are taken in a dark, cool, quiet room. Lying down. No distractions. No phones, obviously. Give your mind a break from all the constant input and just… chill out.
In lockdown v.27349302a_2, the thought of being able to retreat into a separate room without your phone may seem completely laughable. And actually lying down? Unthinkable. A solution: build naptime into other errands. Take five minutes when you’ve come home from buying groceries to sit in your parked car, eyes closed, music off. The car is a great place for napping – babies have learnt this, so should we. (Goes without saying that your handbrake should be very firmly on and your engine very firmly off.)
What will help me nap?
Anything that helps you block out the pesky outside world. Blackout curtains are great, but use with caution – you may end up napping a little too long if you’re plunged into total darkness. Another option to block out light: eyemasks, the more luxe the better. (These come with the added benefit of making you think you look like Audrey Hepburn.)
If sound is your main bugbear when it comes to napping, there are two options. The first is earplugs, for near-total silence – once again, thank you Sleep Foundation for this ranking of the best earplugs for sleep. If you’re more of a white noise person, there are hundreds of white noise playlists available on Spotify, or you can customise your own white noise profile on MyNoise (free on iOS and Android). The benefits of MyNoise, apart from being able to play with the levels like a sound engineer, are that you can use the app without an Internet connection, and also set a timer for how long you want your white noise to run.
Now, go forth and nap. You deserve this.