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How to Nap

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Although some men will disagree, there may be no greater feeling than a daytime nap. The opportunity to free your mind of the real world—deadlines, debates, proposals, and all of that fun stuff—is an opportunity seldom secured. But it's an opportunity that few would turn down.

After all, aside from the feelings of intense awesomeness that follow a timely siesta, daytime dozing has been shown to improve memory as well as alertness (yeah, try pitching that to your boss). So, to keep you alert and productive throughout the day, AskMen.com has decided to provide you with some of the finer points of napping. Here is how to nap.

Get to Sleep
Although it may sound stupid, in order to nap, you need to fall asleep. Considering that your environment and other external demands largely impact your ability to catch some shuteye, fitting in a quick catnap may be more difficult than you think. Careful preparation will, therefore, better ensure your chances of success as you figure out how to nap.

Pre-Nap Preparation
First off, make sure that all immediate commitments are taken care of. An unfinished to-do list can weigh on your mind and prevent you from getting the beauty rest you so desperately need.

Whether it's a quick phone call, e-mail or note that needs to be addressed, take care of that first. Also, pay attention to the foods you eat prior to napping: Avoid consuming foods high in fats and sugar, as these might muck up your ability of achieving that midday nap. Instead, opt for foods likely to promote sleep, such as those high in calcium and protein.

Pick a Location
Finding a reasonable site for respite can be one of the most difficult tasks when it comes to how to take a nap. Ultimately, you'll want to find somewhere clean, quiet and dark; somewhere you won't be disturbed, but somewhere that's comfortable as well. The backseat of your car, a park bench, an off-site conference room, a local library, a low-hanging tree branch, or even a nice patch of grass can all serve as suitable sites for sleep. If all else fails, your cubicle might be your only friend. In this case, though, try to at least disguise what you're doing.

Fall Asleep
Once you target a location, the act of actually falling asleep is entirely on you. Whether listening to relaxing music does the trick or perhaps tuning into the faint sounds around you works best, whatever works for you will need to be explored. Also, keep in mind that the more naps you take, the easier it'll become. Practice does indeed make perfect when it comes to learning how to nap.

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Pick a Length
Ask anyone and they'll likely tell you a different length of time that's optimal for napping -- so let's try to keep things focused. Getting scientific, your nap should not exceed 45 minutes. Anything beyond that and you'll hit deep, slow-wave REM sleep that will make it near impossible for you to be productive when you wake up.

Although some nap experts (aka your resident slackers) might cite 20 minutes as the optimal window of nap time, this 45-minute limit is not entirely arbitrary. In fact, the majority of scientific sleep studies showing memory enhancement from daytime napping all used a 45-minute time limit for study participants; so, if you stick to this time, at least you'll have the comfort of knowing that it has been scientifically validated. Although the exact time within this 45-minute window is somewhat subjective, anywhere between 15 and 45 minutes should allow enough time for you to reap some benefits of sleep while ensuring that you remain alert upon waking.

Wake Up
Aside from finding a time and place to sleep, waking up might just be the hardest part of napping. The most obvious solution is to bring some sort of alarm with you, but the last thing you want is an alarm sounding at your desk, alerting your coworkers or passersby to the fact that you were napping. Using headphones with your mobile phone or setting your phone to vibrate might be a convenient way to solve this little problem.

Alternatively, believe it or not, some actually suggest drinking a cup of coffee prior to napping, to ensure that you'll wake at an appropriate time. However, be cautious with this approach as caffeine takes anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes to take effect, so this approach might actually be counterproductive.

Sleep on It
When the pangs of life are dragging you down and your energy reserves are reaching critically low levels, go ahead, close your eyes and take a little nap. Although many men will frown on this advice, even a short shuteye will reward both your body and mind. Ignore those frowns and have fun napping.