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Tips for the Perfect Nap

Why take a good nap if you can take an excellent nap? Experts have tips to help you get the most out of your mid-day snooze.
Fall is quickly approaching -- and with the cooler weather many of us will likely want to curl up and take a good nap. But why take a good nap if you can take an excellent nap?  Experts have tips to help you get the most out of your mid-day snooze. 

To take the perfect nap...find your nap nirvana 
"The name of the game is being well rested," says Helene A. Emsellem, MD, director of the Center for Sleep & Wake Disorders.

Experts who study the science of sleep recommend a few tips to maximize your snooze 
Nap tip one -- be consistent and conscientious of the time 
"Try to find a schedule for doing it, really pick a time of day when it's going to work," Dr. Emsellem suggests.

The best time? Between 1:00 and 4:00 in the afternoon.
Nap tip two -- avoid catching some zzz's in a chair. 
Being partially upright avoids falling into deep REM sleep, which experts say works against the value of a nap.

Nap tip three was a surprise -- drink a cup of caffeinated coffee right before you rest. You'll wake up feeling refreshed, not groggy
"By the time you wake up from the nap you'll have the benefit of the caffeine and the nap kicking in," Dr. Emsellem notes.

One of the surest ways to ruin a nap? Not watching the clock and napping too long. The sweet spot is between a 20-30 minute power nap, never more than 40 minutes. 

But finding a blissful nap is more than just beauty sleep. 
"The Army is out front in appreciating the importance of sleep and the benefits of sleep," explains Thomas J. Balkin, Ph.D., director of Behavioral Biology Branch.

Doctor Balkin studies sleep patterns at Walter Reed Army Institute Of Research -- and coaches the Defense Department on some of these very same sleep strategies for troops to use in the field.
"In military operations we know that chronic sleep restriction is the rule rather than the exception and our advice is to nap early and nap often, get as much sleep as you can," he says.

And that's much easier to do after you've perfected the nap of your dreams 

(Sunlen Miller, CNN)

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