How to Nap Better

HELP! I CAN’T REMEMBER MY PASSWORDS

By Neil Offen

Naps are good. Studies from the National Institutes of Snoring have shown that 82% of Nobel Prize winners have taken naps. Without naps, most of us would probably just be killing time before it’s time to go to sleep.

But if you’re definitely going to nap, if you agree you should nap, you should know how to do it right.

Before the nap:

When should you decide to take a nap? The obvious answer is “when you’re tired.” The obvious question in response to the obvious answer is “when are you not tired?” Think back, then, to that glorious day in February ’73, the last time you slept past 10 in the morning.

When is the best time for napping? Some people like a morning nap, others prefer early afternoon and there are a few people who go for one right before dinner. During dinner also can work, particularly if you want to avoid any dining table discussion of filibusters.

In fact, all these choices are right, and the only way to know which is best for you is to try all the possibilities, one after the other, on a day when it’s either cold or hot out and you are trying to avoid paying your cellphone bill or cleaning out the attic.

Carefully choose where you want to do your napping. You want to do it in a restful environment. That is, you should nap in a quiet, dark place with a comfortable room temperature and few distractions. Madison Square Garden, for example, would not be a good place even though the Knicks can easily put you to sleep. Instead, consider your kitchen pantry, unless it’s full of expiring cans of creamed corn.

Most experts advise against napping while driving, eating and showering. You can nap, however, while taking a bath, but be aware that your spouse, business colleagues or neighbors may sneak in and take your picture.

Set an alarm before you lay down. Make sure to put it in another room so it will not disturb you.

During the nap:

Do not spend your nap time thinking of all the things you should be doing or could be doing during your nap time. You probably wouldn’t be doing any of it anyway and would be scrolling on Facebook instead.

Keep your nap short. If it’s longer than six hours, you will be forced to rename it sleep and then where will you be?

Experts say to aim for 20 minutes. Most experts, of course, aren’t nearly as tired as you are.

But you also don’t want to make your nap too short. The ideal length of a nap depends, obviously, on the person, so find a person who will allow you to nap for as long as you want to.

After the nap:

You may feel a little groggy following a short daytime nap. That’s normal. Wake yourself up with a cold shower or a hot cross bun. Do not operate complicated machinery — like the toilet — until you have cleared your head and been able to answer the Final Jeopardy question. Make sure it’s in the form of a question.

If it isn’t, that means you’re still too groggy and probably need another nap.


Carrboro resident Neil Offen has written humor pieces for a number of different publications, in a number of different countries. His column appears twice monthly in The Local Reporter.

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