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Cats are professionals when it comes to napping. There’s a reason it’s called a cat nap after all. They know instinctively that sleep is the best thing they can be doing and between hunting and looking regularly out of the window, a nap is the best restorative they can find.
Since cats spend up to 18 hours a day fast asleep, they have had plenty of practice in napping and we can certainly learn a few simple tips from them to improve our own napping ability. In fact, here are a few things that could help you get into a napping routine that even cats could be jealous of.
It’s All in the Timing
Napping is perfect for improving your alertness and avoiding falling asleep at inopportune moments. In fact, it is recommended that drivers going long distances should pull over in a safe place to nap if they feel too tired to continue. This is to avoid falling into micro-sleep, a condition where you fall asleep for a second or two before waking up again – just long enough to cause a crash.
For cats, sleep is something of a hobby and they are quite happy to find any spot in the sunshine for a quick nap. However, we people need to be a little more thoughtful about when and where we sleep, as well as how long we should nap for. A 20 – 30 minute nap is a good length of time that fits nicely into most people’s lunch break and for drowsy drivers provides enough sleep to alleviate drowsiness for a while.
Around lunchtime is a good opportunity for a nap as it won’t impact too much on your sleeping pattern later on. If you are feeling tired at night, instead of a nap, you should just have an early night instead. Napping just a few hours before bed may disrupt your pattern and cause further problems when you can’t sleep later on.
Finding the Best Spot
Warmth and comfort are always at the top of any cat’s list of priorities and when it comes to finding a good place for you to nap, this is important to you too. Though many people choose a chair or a sofa for a quick nap, maybe pulling a blanket over to snuggle into, your bedroom is the best place for a nap.
This makes perfect sense since your bed is literally designed for the best sleep and as long as you get over the stigma of napping, you should really be doing everything you can to optimize your sleep. Keep the room quite cool, between 60 – 67 degrees Fahrenheit, and close the curtains before you get into bed. Your mattress should be comfortable and supportive, keeping your back and neck aligned (have a look at this site for more insights on mattresses).
If you are at work and want a bit of shut-eye, you should try to find a quiet spot that is out of everyone’s way. If your office has a sofa, that would be ideal for curling up and taking 30 minutes to yourself. In some offices, where the employers are more supportive of napping during the day, sleep pods like the ones at Google’s HQ have become a popular option. While your boss might not be catching up anytime soon, you can at least point to a trend if you want to ask for a solution.
Making the Most of Nap Time
Napping is often thought of as an emergency solution rather than a habit, but as cats show, napping can be a way of life. In fact, in this case, the Spanish are already way ahead in their own sleep patterns, having a 3 hour lunch to accommodate a siesta at the hottest part of the day. While it is perfectly logical to assume that the siesta is only for avoiding the sun, scientists have also found that people who have siestas tend to be less likely to die of heart disease.
The health benefits of having a nap are finally being noticed in the US and as nap rooms are becoming more popular in US offices, it looks like many employers are realizing that they can have healthier, happier and more alert staff if they just accommodate a 30 minute nap each day. This is great news because it suggests that a cultural shift is in progress. However, it’s still important that you get a high quality of sleep in that time and don’t feel awkward about being asleep on the job.
While it is tempting to quickly check your phone before you close your eyes or to think ahead to what you are going to do when you wake up, you don’t want to waste all your time not sleeping. Instead, a good nap – as all cats know – starts by closing your eyes and settling into a comfortable position. Clear your mind of everything and relax your muscles. Counting down from 100 slowly might help if you are struggling to switch off.
Though napping at work may still be an uncommon occurrence, the Japanese have long understood the benefit and studies have shown that a 60 minute nap can vastly improve performance in the workplace, giving you a much better chance of learning new information and memorizing facts. Part of the reason for this is that sleep is a great way to reduce stress and calm right down, so allowing yourself to clear your mind in order to drift off is ideal for improving your performance.
Cats know a lot about napping and there are few animals who are so chilled out. They understand that napping makes them more alert before they go hunting plus it can help them live longer and healthier lifestyles. Napping more like a cat will help you in all these ways too, though you probably won’t achieve their ability to disguise themselves as fluffy cushions or recognize someone with an allergy to cat hair within 2 seconds. Some things are secrets only other cats can understand…