(SPM Wire) Americans are notoriously sleep-deprived, which can have unpleasant and even dangerous effects. And while a nap can alleviate fatigue, increase alertness and improve mood, for years napping was considered to be a pastime more appropriate for little children and the sick than healthy adults.
But the tides are changing. National Sleep Foundation encourages napping, citing improvements in alertness, performance and mood as benefits. So here are a few tips on getting the most out of your daytime snooze:
Find a comfortable spot. A bed is the best, but is not always available. If napping in a chair or on a couch, make sure your neck is well-supported to avoid sore muscles.
Use a sleep mask and earplugs. Sometimes disconnecting from your surroundings can be difficult, even when you're tired. Cutting out noise and light can help.
Use a nap as a caffeine substitute. If you find yourself reaching for coffee because you can't stay awake, consider taking a nap instead. Close your eyes and get some shut-eye -- it will help relieve tiredness instead of postponing it until the caffeine wears off.
But remember to keep your naps to a maximum of 20 to 30 minutes, lest they interfere with a much-needed good night's rest!