Caregiver Power Nap

6 Great Ways to Nap -- and Wake up Refreshed
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Sleep deprivation is a special risk for caregivers. Napping can help you recharge your brain and body. These napping tricks can help:

Time it right.
After lunch is a good nap time for most people because it meshes with your natural circadian rhythms. Some of your deepest sleep comes between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m., and you're naturally sleepy again 12 hours later.

Take a driveway nap.
Sounds crazy, but when you have time off for errands because someone else is with your loved one, don't rush back into the house afterward. If you need some sleep, pull into the driveway and catch some shut-eye for ten minutes right there.

Try "co-napping."
If your loved one naps during the day, resist the urge to get a million other things done -- try to catnap yourself at the same time. If the person in your care isn't a napper, try setting up a reclining chair in his or her room so that you can be together while, say, watching TV -- but you can also nod off for a spell.

Use a timer.
Experienced power-nappers can rouse themselves after just 10 or 15 minutes, but you may need the help of an alarm. The ideal nap is less than 20 minutes long -- sleep longer and you may awaken groggy and disoriented, and find that your nighttime sleep is affected. When the alarm goes off, resist the urge to drowse; get up right away.

Take a "caffeine nap."
Drink a cup of caffeinated coffee, then take a 15-minute nap immediately after. It sounds backward, but research shows that this particular combination makes you feel more alert and recharged than if you just drank the coffee, or just napped for 15 to 30 minutes. Called a "caffeine nap," it gives you the refreshing effects of sleep plus a jolt of caffeine, which kicks in just as you're waking up.

Use sleep cues.
Some sleep experts advise against napping in your bed, because it signals you to fall into a longer, deeper sleep than you need for napping. But it's still a good idea to use other sleep cues: a darkened room, quiet (turn off the TV if you can), and a blanket to lull your body to a cozy sleep temperature.

Image by Flickr user cjc4454 under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike licensing agreement.

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio