The Art of the Afternoon Nap

NapWho says napping is just for babies? I’d argue that it’s equally, if not more, important for adults to catch their afternoon z’s as well. In fact, science agrees with me and so does Spain. (Not to mention Thomas Edison, Leonardo DaVinci, Winston Churchill, and JFK).

I’ve always been a huge proponent for the afternoon nap. I often find myself yearning for a bit of shut-eye around two in the afternoon. It must be something in my DNA. In my college days, I could be found napping between my afternoon classes and swim practice. Other times, I’d sleep on the couches in the campus coffeehouse in between classes. A friend of mine had a double bed in her dorm room (unheard of!) and sometimes I’d sneak in there for a rest when she was gone so that I could nap in luxury.

There is an art to taking the perfect, most refreshing afternoon nap. Time is often limited and so it’s important to get the most restful sleep in the time you have available. Here are some ways you can create the environment for a perfect afternoon nap:

1) Lighting

It’s all about the natural lighting. I don’t need to sleep in pitch dark and I love it when natural light seeps into the room. To me, this is the perfect lighting for an afternoon nap:

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2) Temperature

The perfect temperature for a nap is cool enough so the use of a blanket is required, but not too cool where I have to add extra layers. I sleep better when cuddling with a blanket, so extreme heat won’t work. I also love a nice breeze blowing on me whether it’s from an overhead fan or through a screen window. Whenever possible, I try to nap near an open window.

3) Pillow Placement

For me, it’s all about pillow placement. I like to build a nest out of pillows and then burrow my head in between them. If you find yourself sleeping in an area without pillows, you can always use your bag or an article of clothing as a makeshift pillow. Here’s what my pillow nest looks like:

Head burrowed in pillows during a recent nap.
Head burrowed in pillows during a recent nap.
4) Companion

Recently, a mother posted adorable photos of her new dog and her small son taking naps together that went viral. The two are often nestled in each other’s arms while napping, making for a most relaxing sleep. Who doesn’t love cuddling with their favorite furry friend?!

And if you don’t have a furry friend you might find a human cuddle buddy helps you sleep, like on the episode of Friends where Joey accidentally falls asleep on the couch with Ross and finds it was the best nap of his life:

5) Wake up naturally, don’t set an alarm clock.

When it comes to napping, your body will wake you up when it’s decided its had enough sleep. Twenty minutes might do the trick, it might take two hours. I don’t sleep well when there’s pressure to wake up at a certain time. Ruins all of the fun of the afternoon nap!

Finally, try to avoid falling asleep when it’s light out and waking up in the dark. I get so disoriented when I wake up in the dark after lying down in the light that I often forget what day it is and what I’m actually supposed to be doing. It sends me into a panic, thus negating all of the tranquility created by taking the afternoon nap.

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