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Afternoon naps can refresh and relax

Dr. Sapna Parikh has the story.
October 10, 2013 3:13:02 PM PDT
"It took some convincing to get it in here for our boss," said Megan Boudouris, Associate Brand Manager at Bulldog Gin.

But the boss at the Bulldog Gin Headquarters in SoHo agreed to get a napping pod, so the hardworking employees can take a little siesta.

"You really do just get a moment to yourself and you're away from the world," said Bob Beleson, Managing Director at Bulldog Gin.

Whether you're napping at work, at home, or on the subway, research shows a power snooze can improve memory and alertness.

"I feel very relaxed right now, I feel ready to tackle a hundred emails," Megan said.

To help you plan the perfect nap, we checked in with Dr. Steven Feinsilver, Director of the Sleep Center at Mount Sinai Hospital. He's been studying sleep for 30 years.

"Most humans sleep better when it's cooler than warmer, dark generally, quiet certainly," Dr. Feinsilver said.

The ideal naptime is 2 o'clock, after lunch. But it's not the lunch that makes you sleepy, it's your built-in body clock.

"It's strongest and most obvious in in the evening but there's a second peak of sleepiness in all normal humans sometime in the mid-afternoon," Dr. Feinsilver said.

The perfect length of a midday (midafternoon) nap is probably 90 minutes, the full length of one sleep cycle.

"This is actually REM sleep or dreaming sleep," Dr. Feinsilver said.

But a 20-minute nap is more realistic, and Dr. Feinsilver says that's enough to get your brain to restful stages of non-dreaming sleep.

"More than 30, or 40, or 50 minutes, you might get into the very deep sleep where it's just hard to wake up," Dr. Feinsilver said.

That's because of something called sleep inertia. To fight it, studies show a little caffeine before your nap may help.

The idea is, by the time you wake up 15 minutes later, that has kicked in and you wake up less tired and groggy. But everyone's different; if caffeine impacts you immediately, bad idea.

Corey Galotta, Associate Brand Manager at Bulldog Gin, says the afternoon snooze is so refreshing he drinks less coffee altogether.

"Usually around 1 or 2 o'clock, I'd be ready for my second cup of coffee. Instead of doing that, lately I've been taking a quick nap," Corey said.

If you find that you start dreaming almost immediately even with a short nap, that's a sign you really are sleep deprived, and needed that nap.


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