The best amount of time to nap is a question that many people struggle with. Should you take a long or short nap? When should you take your nap? How will the duration of your nap affect how well-rested you are? These are all important questions, but there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. This post will discuss how much time that one should spend napping and what kind of impact different lengths of naps can have on sleep quality.
Napping vs sleeping
Before we go any further, let’s clarify what is meant by napping. Napping is a broad term that encompasses two different kinds of sleep: light and deep. Light naps are short periods spent sleeping used to recharge your energy level and improve mental alertness. Deep naps last longer because they encompass the first half of non-REM sleep which brings about a deeper state of relaxation and improved physical restoration. The amount of time you feel increased drowsiness can vary from person to person depending on their habits and preference but generally speaking it takes at least 20 minutes for an individual to reach this stage, known as “sleep inertia.” You should ideally wait until you feel naturally sleepy before taking a nap – feeling tired or fatigued is a sign that you need to sleep.
During short light naps brain activity is quite similar to wakefulness and it takes some time for an individual to descend into deeper stages of non-REM sleep. As such, they’re not very restorative (and they’re also kind of boring). Deep naps can bring about a range of positive effects on your cognitive function, mood, and physical restoration. They also have a recurring role in Ayurveda medicine. Most importantly, everyone has their own unique needs when it comes to deep napping so trying out different lengths of time will help you determine the optimal length for yourself.
How Long Should You Nap?
There is no simple answer to this question because everyone has different needs based on their lifestyle, circadian rhythms, genetics, or current health conditions. The best way to determine the best amount of time to nap is by experimenting with different durations to see how napping impacts your energy levels and productivity.
The shortest and most common naps in modern society are nap-length: 15 to 20 minutes. This is the number of times doctors and sleep experts often prescribe for their patients because it’s long enough to relax and unwind but short enough not to interfere with the nighttime sleep cycle. However, some people are trying longer naps for a more refreshing experience. Here are some of the benefits you get from having a long nap instead of a short one:
Improves the quality of your sleep
Napping for 60 to 90 minutes increases the amount of slow-wave sleep you get in a single cycle, which means your body will have more time to repair itself with sleep. This not only makes your daytime activities feel easier, but it also helps strengthen your immune system and improves memory recall.
Helps with nighttime insomnia
Many people suffer from nighttime wakefulness or difficulty falling asleep at night after a day filled with low-quality sleep (you know the feeling). A long nap during the day will help overcome this type of sleeping disorder by allowing you to fall back to sleep easily since your body is already primed for it.
Increases alertness and productivity
Taking an hour-long nap gives your mind and body more time to rest. This extra downtime will allow you to wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, which can help you focus better on your work or on learning new things. You may also find that after napping for an hour, you’re less irritable and have a lot more patience throughout the day.
Can help you lose weight
A nap after a caloric-rich meal with a combination of protein and carbohydrates can help you burn more fat throughout the day. This is because the nap gives your body time to metabolize glucose (sugar) in your muscles, which helps reduce insulin resistance.
Increases creativity and problem-solving skills
Taking long naps is often recommended for people who want to increase their problem-solving or creative thinking abilities because it allows them to restructure information they’ve recently learned, integrate it into other knowledge they already have, and store this new data in long-term memory.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. Since everyone is different, certain people may need longer sleep durations during some days or seasons of their lives while others function better with shorter naps. However, the benefits listed above are generally true for most adults who nap.
Side effects of daytime sleeping
Napping during the day is safe for most adults, but it does come with some cons. These include:
Causes poor sleep quality at night
If you nap long enough (more than 45 minutes), there’s a chance that your body won’t be ready to enter REM (rapid eye movement) sleep when it’s nighttime, which results in lower-quality sleep overall. This can reduce your energy levels and weaken your immune function. It can also affect your mood, which may cause you to feel anxious or depressed throughout the day.
Disrupts nighttime sleeping patterns
Siestas are common in many Latin American countries where people get up early in the morning and then take an hour-long afternoon nap before it’s time for bed. If you’re used to doing the same thing every day, this routine may prevent you from getting enough sleep at night by keeping your mind and body in daytime mode when it’s time for bed.
Causes decreased alertness at work or school
This is mostly due to taking a nap that is too long or having poor-quality sleep before doing so. However, a short nap of 10 minutes is recommended for those who stay awake during the day.
Long Naps vs. Short Naps – Which Is Better?
On paper, it appears that long naps are the clear winners in every category when compared to short ones. However, there are some circumstances where taking a short nap is the better choice. For instance, if you’re having trouble falling asleep at night or suffer from insomnia, sleeping for an hour or longer may just ruin your chances of getting the rest you need when it’s time for bed.
Short naps between 10 and 20 minutes will help you energize your body without throwing off your nighttime sleep schedule. This type of nap can also be used to boost productivity by “powering up” concentration levels before important meetings or presentations. It’s also useful for overcoming midday slumps, which affects everyone who works indoors regularly. Power naps of this length also help you prevent burnout or emotional eating by boosting your mood and increasing dopamine levels in the brain.
For most people, however, an hour-long nap is the best choice for more energy throughout the day. Since napping puts you into a light sleep cycle, it’s easy to wake up quickly if something (like your name being called) interrupts you during your rest. This means that an hour-long nap leaves you feeling fulfilled without leaving behind that groggy feeling in the morning when you have to get out of bed.
The best time to take a nap
The best time to take a nap is usually in the early afternoon between 1 and 3 PM. This timing allows you to wake up before nighttime, which will make it easier for you to fall asleep. If you take a nap later than this window, your body might have trouble adjusting properly to nighttime sleep or you might find it difficult to stay awake during the day. This is because a long nap will activate your body’s natural sleep cycle, which may create slight grogginess in the evening if you woke up too late.
If you’re an early bird, then you might feel more comfortable taking a nap at dawn or in the morning before going to work or school. This timing will give your body enough time to wake up and adjust properly without feeling tired during nighttime hours. On the other hand, if you’re a night owl, napping after your workday ends is best. This way you’ll have plenty of energy to stay awake until nighttime while still getting some restoration during the day by sleeping for an hour or two.
Napping between 10 and 20 minutes will help boost concentration without sacrificing nighttime sleep. This type of nap can also be used to “power up” before important meetings or presentations, or as an alternative way to boost productivity if caffeine isn’t an option. A power nap of this length also helps prevent moodiness by boosting dopamine levels naturally.
Napping for 30 minutes or more can be used to increase productivity through increased memory access and creative problem-solving. This type of nap is recommended for those who have difficulty staying awake during the day due to long work hours, an intense workout schedule, or because it’s just hard to fall asleep at night! Long naps are not recommended for those who wake up early.