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How to Take a Power Nap

Feel like you're sleepwalking through your day? When nighttime sleep is in short supply, "napping can help a new mother survive," says Sara C. Mednick, Ph.D., a sleep researcher at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, CA. Here's how you can nab some daytime rest:

Ditch your resistance. "You have to believe that it's not being lazy and will make you more effective at what you're doing," Mednick says.

Avoid caffeine, and high-fat or sugary foods and drinks, which can keep you up.

Create the right environment. Dim the lights and find a quiet place where you feel comfy and calm.

Practice. Almost anyone can learn to nap. The first few times, lie down and concentrate on your breathing. If you can put your worries aside (forget about the dishes in the sink) and get yourself into a relaxed state, you'll eventually nod off.

Time it right. Don't stress if your baby doesn't take long naps; if you can sneak in a 15- to 20-minute snooze, you'll feel more alert and refreshed. Rest for 50 to 90 minutes and you'll experience the most restorative stages of sleep and put a dent in your sleep deprivation. Just don't nap within three hours of bedtime  -- it can interfere with nighttime rest.

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