January can feel like the most draining month of year, bringing with it those famous blues.
Many people find their moods drop with the temperatures, with chilly weather and the financial and emotional aftereffects of Christmas making for a depressing outlook.
Because of lower levels of sunlight, people usually have lower energy during winter – alongside lower mood and alertness.
For some, this means seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD.
According to Hayley Thistleton, sleep expert at Sleepseeker, one way to get through the January blues is by trying to incorporate a power nap into your routine.
‘There are several benefits of adding a power-nap into your daily routine in the winter, however oversleeping could actually cause more harm than good,’ she says.
To feel re-energised after an afternoon snooze and prevent oversleeping during the darker months, Hayley shares her top tips.
Choose the right time
The time of day you nap can impact how you feel when you wake up.
‘Napping too late in the day is likely to affect your natural sleep rhythm at night, which is why it’s best to avoid this where possible,’ Hayley says.
‘Most people will benefit from a nap in the late morning or early afternoon, but naturally this depends on what time you wake up.’
The key line is to avoid sleeping too close to bedtime, especially if you want to stick to your usual sleep schedule.
Short naps are the sweetest
How long should you nap be?
According to the sleep expert, 20 minutes is ideal to avoid the possibility of post-nap grogginess.
‘For some, 10 minutes might be the optimal time, but others might find it difficult to fall asleep in this time,’ says Hayley.
‘These short bursts of sleep are often referred to as power naps, which are beneficial because they’re likely to have little effect on nighttime sleep.’
However, if you really need to recharge, Hayley recommends a 90 minute doze.
‘This could have a higher impact on productivity and alertness, with this allowing nappers to sleep through an entire cycle without interrupting deep sleep, which is likely to cause drowsiness,’ she adds.
Find a comfortable spot
This goes without saying – you don’t want to take a nap only to be constantly disrupted.
‘If you want to incorporate napping into your daily routine, choose a comfortable spot which you can rest in without interruptions,’ says Hayley.
Ideally, try to find a place where you can block out the lights, or try to use an eye-mask with ear plugs. You could even find a napping playlist to help you unwind.
‘Remember not to get too comfortable by setting an alarm,’ adds Hayley. ‘And make sure not to snooze it – this will only make you feel groggy and tired.’
Try a caffeine-boosted nap
This might not make sense at first, but trust the process.
Hayley explains: ‘It takes 20 minutes for people to feel the effects of caffeine, which is why having caffeine before taking a power-nap could give nappers the ultimate boost in the afternoon.
‘Simply try having a coffee before settling down for a sleep, and set your alarm for 20 minutes only. This will allow you to wake up feeling energised and ready to go.’
Now if we could only normalise napping on the go, we’d be unstoppable.
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