My 5 Rules for Effective Naps

With Addison’s even if you follow your treatment plan and take your medication, you will likely have higher levels of fatigue. The body is very good at regulating your hormones and while the medications can replace the cortisol and corticosteroids that your body needs, sometimes that regulation can get thrown off through no fault of your own.

You can feel tired or lethargic. This happens to me most days in the mid-afternoon. Not a surprise as the afternoon affects most people this way, it’s the normal time the body’s circadian rhythm kicks in. It also makes it the perfect time for a quick nap. 

While making sure I get plenty of sleep has become almost as important as taking my daily meds in helping with the adrenal fatigue, the daily nap has also become a very important part of my day. Getting that extra time to rest and recharge has definitely helped me remain more positive and less irritable as the day winds down.

After two years, it’s also made me really good at napping. Not as simple as it sounds. 

Here are my 5 rules for effective naps. Plus a few bonus suggestions to try.


1. Lay down. Take off your shoes. Grab a blanket

Let’s start with some basics. Don’t try to nap at your desk or sitting in your car. It won’t work. Or won’t work effectively. Get horizontal. Sure, you can nap with your shoes on, but do you really want to? No. Take them off. Get comfortable. Finally, grab a blanket. If you do it right, your body’s temperature will drop while you nap. You’ll need at least a light blanket. I also just find it psychological comfy to cover up with a blanket when I’m asleep.


2. Give yourself a strict time limit

Short, restful naps should generally last around 25-30 minutes. That’s the sweet spot. It allows you to rest without the risk of slipping into a deeper sleep. Have you ever had trouble waking up from a nap? You walk around feeling groggy for another hour? That’s the hangover from napping into a deeper sleep cycle. Your body doesn’t like it. It wants to stay asleep at that point. Keep it short. If you become a practiced (i.e., habitual) napper, you’ll likely find yourself waking up without an alarm. That’s the sign of a pro.

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3. Don’t nap after 4 P.M.

Taking a short nap in the middle of the afternoon can give you a boost to push through that mid-afternoon slump, but if you push it past 4 p.m. you start hurting that circadian rhythm rather than aiding it. Even if you keep it short, you’ll likely have trouble falling asleep at night.


4. Aim to nap after lunch

As blood and calories go toward your stomach to help digest your lunch, you’re likely to feel a little more tired. Why fight it? Lay down and let your body do its thing. The Spanish were right all along.


5. Use white noise & keep it dark

I like to use a fan or a white noise app while I nap to drown out the regular work-a-day noise that might filter in. I don’t need to hear the neighbor’s dog or the delivery truck. Just let me nap. I like this free Android app. Avoid the temptation of looking at your phone and it’s blue light. Try to find a place that’s dark and switch off for a half hour.


Other suggestions

Caffeine nap

For veteran nappers, try this nap hack that can leave you feeling extra energized afterwards. Drink a cup of coffee (relatively quickly) and take a 20-minute nap immediately afterwards. By the time you wake up, the caffeine will be kicking in leaving you feeling extra sharp for the rest of your day.


You don’t need to actually fall asleep

Psst. Here’s a secret. You don’t actually need to fall asleep. Just laying down and trying to sleep can give your body a break and provide a lot of restorative power.


Try a quick walk outside

Some days it’s just not going to happen. Life, meetings, or your kids will just not let you squeeze in that nap. In that case, I try to time a quick walk outside for right after lunch. The physical activity, sunshine and mental break from your day can often be almost as effective as a nap.