Your environment is essential for napping and is something often easy to overlook. I used to think as long as my eyes are shut for 20+ min it means I got enough rest.
Time spent resting is NOT an indication of a good rest, the quality of rest is everything.
Your environment can affect the speed at which you reach the optimal sleep recovery states (REM and non-REM). Your environment can also impact the time you spend in these states.
Quite simply if you get disturbed you exit your sleep cycle and it will take you time to start it again. I found it was worth spending 5 minutes setting up my environment to improve the quality of my naps.
When thinking of your nap environment think of your 5 senses; smell, sight, touch, sound and taste.
This is something I concentrate on a bit more for a nighttime routine, for napping a pillow spray might be something I’d use.
In this context it's simple, you need an environment that's dark enough it allows you to fall asleep and stay asleep. When I am napping I like to let a crack of light in from the curtain as it makes it easier for me to wake up. #
Think comfort and temperature, if I have the luxury to change out of my jeans I do. Our body cools down to sleep so having somewhere a bit cooler generally is good. But depending on the length of your nap you may not need to take all this into account
The main aim of sound is to make sure it's not going to disturb your sleep, the TV, radio or road can disturb your sleep, when you are taken out of the deeper stages of your sleep cycles from disturbances you don’t get the full benefits and it takes you time to get back into these stages. Some sounds such as white noise (or brown noise), forest sounds or rain help some people get better sleep and help block out the noises that you can't control such as traffic.
I try not to have stronger foods such as chewing gum, dark chocolate, and high sugar foods before the nap. If I have a long nap I would these foods for after to help me get out of the groggy feeling. There are a few teas that are known to help you relax and sleep such as chamomile tea that you can drink before your nap. Or you can use more energising food and drinks to get you going after your nap. I would avoid caffeine as it is likely to affect your night's sleep if you are having it in the afternoon.
I have found from the many napping conversations I have had that most people have certain senses that impact them more, some are light sleepers and sound makes a big difference. Other people, I have spoken to respond really well to aromatherapy and pillow sprays. Find what works for you and experiment with it.
When you're not working, or napping, from home - we've created the best place to have a nap. Informed by these factors and the latest sleep science, our rest spaces really create the best nap environment. Get in touch if you want these spaces at your workplace.