After a big lunch often all you feel like doing is curling up and sleeping – when in fact, it might be just what you need on Christmas Day to keep you refreshed and alert.

Despite the stigma of laziness or inactivity, napping is a fantastic tool for improving your cognitive powers. Napping can improve alertness, learning, memory and performance.

A power nap is a sleep session lasting between 10 and 30 minutes during the day, usually between one and four in the afternoon. Any longer than this period means a risk of “sleep inertia” – the feeling of grogginess that can be hard to shake off.

There’s also a good case for the benefits of an hour-long nap, apparently good for cognitive memory processing, since you enter the non-rapid eye movement stage of sleep (the deepest kind) – this slow-wave sleep helps us remember facts, places and faces, thus giving a great cognitive boost.

The 90 minute nap is one complete sleep cycle. It aids in emotional and procedural memory as well as creativity, with a minimal amount of sleep inertia – although who has time for an hour and a half sleep during a regular day! On Christmas Day however, it could be the perfect length of time to recover from the day’s festivities before getting behind the wheel and making the drive home, especially if you have a long drive ahead of you.

To help recover from the busy and exhausting celebrations on Christmas Day, use these tips to get in a quick afternoon beauty sleep…
  • Turn off your mobile phone and any other potential distractions – putting on headphones with relaxing music may help to block out background noise
  • Find a dark room or use an eye mask to simulate darkness
  • If you’re having a power nap, have caffeine just before you settle in so that after the 20 minutes (just when the caffeine starts to hit your system) you’ll awake refreshed and raring to go.
  • Set an alarm – you’ll be able to relax knowing you won’t oversleep your allocated nap time
  • Rise as soon as the alarm goes off. Sleeping for any longer will be counterproductive! Do some star jumps or jog in place to get your circulation flowing again to properly wake yourself up.

Are you a power napper? Do you regularly sleep in the day? Let us know whether it makes you more refreshed!