Napping is a popular way to regain lost sleep. It is defined as a midday period of sleep. Generally, napping is more common in children than adults. However, sleep disorders and busy lifestyles have made napping common in adults, as well.
You’ve been on the go all day, getting things accomplished and feeling great. But in mid-afternoon, all of a sudden you feel tired, sluggish, and maybe even a little irritable. It drags you down and you can’t wait to find a few minutes to get a cup of coffee that will help you make it through the day. But instead of using those few minutes for afternoon coffee, it may be more beneficial to take an afternoon nap.
If you’re ready to get some quick shut eye but are asking “how long should I nap,” we’re here to help. Let’s learn more about the benefits of napping and talk about the best nap length.
If you have an extra 15-30 minutes to spare, taking a power nap can make you feel rejuvenated and give you the energy to finish your day. Power naps are sleep, but for a short amount of time. When you take a power nap, you wake up before deep sleep even begins and remain in the lighter stages of sleep. This helps prevent the groggy, post-nap feeling many of us can relate to. Power naps are not meant to replace any nighttime sleep, but act as a supplement to give you the extra boost you need when you’re feeling tired throughout the day.
Different lengths of time spent napping have different results due to our sleep cycles, so it’s important to know how long to nap to enjoy these benefits.
If you’re wondering “how long should I nap?” the answer is - it depends. There are benefits of short power naps, 30-minute naps, and naps that are an hour or longer.
Once we sleep for more than thirty minutes we begin to enter deep sleep. Waking from a nap this length may help us improve memory, decision-making, and creativity, but will most likely leave us feeling groggy and sluggish. Also, it may take just as long to even feel rested from a nap longer than 30 minutes.
If we nap for sixty minutes or more, we are in a deep sleep. Benefits of napping this long are also improved memory and creativity, but it can also make us feel groggy.
If you’re feeling extra sleepy, a long nap may be beneficial. Sleeping for ninety minutes or more puts us through the whole sleep cycle, including light sleep, deep sleep, and REM sleep. The benefits to this are improved procedural memory and creativity, as well as improved mood. After this nap, it’s easier to wake up feeling rested. Unfortunately, not many adults have time in their busy schedules for long naps.
With that in mind, the most beneficial nap for many adults is the power nap. If your schedule allows it, it’s a good idea to make power napping a part of your daily routine. Try napping at the same time every day, preferably in mid-afternoon, for no more than thirty minutes. If you try to nap too early, you may have a hard time because your body probably won’t be ready for sleep. Napping too late may interfere with sleep patterns and you may have a hard time falling asleep at night. A comfortable, dark room can help you nap if you have access to one. Don’t forget to set an alarm so you wake up and avoid falling into a deep sleep.
Hopefully this information helps you answer the age-old question: how long should I nap? Having a regular napping schedule may not only help you feel energized, but may have health benefits too. Regular naps reduce stress and may decrease your risk of heart disease.
Most of us don’t have the time to go through a full sleep cycle every afternoon. So it’s good news that such a short nap can have such great benefits. That 20 minutes looking for your cup of coffee could be spent napping, giving you the energy to finish out your day.
© 2021 American Sleep Association.