There are many benefits to napping–including, new research shows, fending off colds and improving cardiovascular health. Here’s how to do it well:
1 PICK A REGULAR TIME
A daily schedule helps train your body to know when it’s nap time, says W. Christopher Winter, a board-certified sleep-medicine physician. He recommends late morning or early afternoon to avoid interfering with your night sleep.
2 SET YOUR ALARM FOR 20 TO 25 MINUTES
That’s enough time to help you wake up refreshed without falling into deeper stages of sleep–at which point you wake up groggy, thanks to a phenomenon called sleep inertia.
3 AVOID STIMULI
Turn off your phone and find the darkest, quietest place you can, since a bright, boisterous environment can keep you from falling asleep or wake you up midnap.
4 SNIFF LAVENDER
No, really: in one 2012 study, when men and women fell asleep to that scent, they slept better and woke up feeling more alert.
–K. Aleisha Fetters
This appears in the March 21, 2016 issue of TIME.
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