Updated September 24, 2020If you’re one of the one-third of U.S. adults who nap, then you’ve likely experienced the many advantages that come with catching a midday snooze. Napping has been proven to help lower stress, boost energy, and even lower rates of cardiovascular disease and inflammation, among other benefits.The length and timing of a nap, however, will affect the benefits reaped. In some cases, longer naps can make you feel groggy, and napping too late in the day disrupts your sleep schedule and makes it difficult to doze off at night. Knowing the different effects napping can produce will help you determine when and how to best nap.In this article, we explain the different lengths of naps and the benefits and drawbacks of each, plus tips for enjoying a good, quality nap.Nap DurationsThe length of a nap matters greatly because sleep happens in cycles. A normal sleep cycle averages 90 minutes in length, and it begins in the lighter stages of sleep before entering deep sleep and eventually REM (rapid eye movement). During a typical night of sleep, we complete roughly five sleep cycles.When napping, we may not even complete one cycle of sleep. The length of time we nap will dictate which stage of sleep we wake up in, affecting whether we feel refreshed or groggy. There are benefits to various lengths of naps and if done right, napping won’t cause drowsiness.10 to 20 MinutesOften referred to as a power nap, a short 10- to 20-minute nap is great for boosting energy and alertness. During a power nap, you stay in the first two stages of non-rapid eye movement. These stages of sleep are the easiest to wake from because they are the lightest of all the stages.While short in duration, power naps provide immediate benefits. They boost alertness and performance levels, and can decrease any feelings of sleepiness. Often, waking up from a power nap will be easy and you’ll likely feel refreshed and recharged.30 to 60 MinutesA nap lasting between 30 and 60 minutes will send your body into the third and fourth stages of sleep when our bodies begin to relax more deeply and we experience slow-wave sleep. Waking up in the middle of these stages can cause sleep inertia, the transitional stage between sleep and wakefulness, which is associated with feeling groggy and disoriented. Sleep inertia can last anywhere between a few minutes up to a few hours and is a disadvantage for naps lasting this long.While naps ranging from 30 to 60 minutes often lead to sleep inertia, they still provide benefits. Since these naps include slow-wave sleep, they can help to improve memory and decision-making skills, and aid in recalling information. Due to sleep inertia, a short window of recovery time is needed before the grogginess wears off and the benefits can be noticed.90 MinutesA 90-minute nap allows you to complete one full sleep cycle, and waking from these naps is generally easy. Since you experience each stage of sleep and wake up back at stage one, these naps leave you feeling refreshed and more awake, so they don’t cause sleep inertia like an hour-long nap can.A full sleep cycle can boost creativity and improve procedural and emotional memory. Naps lasting 90 minutes in length will produce these benefits because it takes roughly that long to complete a sleep cycle.Ninety-minute naps can offer valuable benefits but they can also easily disrupt your sleep schedule because they are longer in duration. Avoid taking lengthy naps within seven hours of your scheduled bedtime to ensure it doesn’t interfere with your nightly sleep.Benefits of NappingAside from feeling more rested, napping provides many mental and physical benefits. In fact, one study found naps can even be as effective as nighttime sleep in enhancing memory processes.It’s important to note while naps can offer an array of benefits, nothing can replace a night of lost sleep. Maintaining healthy sleep hygiene and getting good sleep at night should be your number one priority.Some benefits of napping include:Improved performance and productivityPromotes creativityImproved episodic memoryReduced fatigueBetter mood and emotion regulationLower blood pressureEnhanced learning and memory consolidationIncreased alertnessTips for Good NappingTo enjoy the full benefits napping can offer there are a few things to keep in mind when preparing to get some midday shuteye.Set an Alarm: Setting an alarm is important for ensuring you nap the desired amount of time. An alarm can make sure you don’t accidentally sleep longer than you intended, especially if you only plan on taking a short 10-minute nap. This can help you to wake up when you’ll feel most refreshed and rested and avoid experiencing sleep inertia.Find a Quiet Place: If possible, nap in a quiet, dark space with little distractions and comfortable room temperature. These factors encourage rest and relaxation and can help you to fall asleep more quickly.Avoid Naps Late in the Day: Napping too late in the day can make it difficult to fall asleep that evening. A disruption in your sleep schedule can have a domino effect on the following days, making it hard to get back on track. Avoid napping within seven hours of your scheduled bedtime to prevent any sleep disruptions.Give Yourself Time to Wake Up: Allow yourself enough time to wake up before resuming your day. You may feel tired and less alert for a short amount of time, which can potentially impair your performance.FAQsWhat’s the best time of day to nap?The best time of day to nap is usually six to eight hours after waking. For someone on a regular nightly sleep schedule, this time is typically somewhere between 1 and 3 p.m. Napping any time after this is likely to interfere with your sleep schedule and may make it difficult to fall asleep at night.Why am I more tired after a nap?If you find you feel more tired after a nap, you may be waking up during the later stages of sleep when deep sleep occurs. We experience these stages roughly between 30 and 60 minutes after falling asleep. Waking up during this window is more difficult because the body has begun, but not yet finished, the deeper stage of sleep. This can cause what’s known as sleep inertia, a transitional state between sleep and wakefulness where we feel drowsy and disoriented for a short period of time.To avoid sleep inertia, plan to take a short 10- to 20-minute power nap instead. During this length of time, we stay in the lighter stages of non-REM sleep, so it’s easier to wake up. Power naps also provide immediate benefits, like improved alertness and extra energy.If you need a longer nap, aim to sleep for 90 minutes, the length of time it takes to complete one full sleep cycle. Waking up from a 90-minute nap should be fairly easy because your body will have just completed all the light and deep stages of sleep, so you’ll wake feeling more rested.Are afternoon naps healthy?Short afternoon naps can be beneficial when timed correctly. Napping too late in the day could interfere with your sleep schedule and make it difficult to fall asleep. As long as naps are taken early enough in the afternoon, generally seven to nine hours prior to sleep, and last no longer than 20 minutes, they can offer boosts of energy and improve alertness for up to a few hours.Naps lasting longer may make you feel drowsy upon waking because your body will have entered the deeper stages of sleep. Our brain and muscles begin to relax further during deep sleep and can make it even harder to wake up.How long is a power nap?A power nap is a short nap usually lasting between 10 and 20 minutes. Power naps are great for quickly boosting energy and alertness; so they can be beneficial for someone needing to push through an afternoon slump, or for anyone who needs a quick recharge on a tiring day.If you plan to take a quick power nap, it’s important to not sleep longer than 20 minutes. Naps extending past 30 minutes will begin to enter the deeper stages of non-rapid eye movement. Waking from this stage of sleep is much more difficult and will increase your chance of experiencing sleep inertia, the transitional state between sleep and wakefulness. Sleep inertia makes you feel groggy and disoriented, and it can last from a few minutes up to a couple of hours, impairing performance and alertness.Do adults need to nap?An adult who receives the recommended 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep each night likely doesn’t need to nap during the day. However, power naps may be beneficial for anyone experiencing occasional sleep deprivation, as well as those who need an extra boost of energy.It’s important to note, napping should not take the place of a good night’s sleep. Naps are a great temporary solution for occasional bouts of fatigue or when we need to skip out on regular sleep like during overnight travel. However, a regular, healthy sleep schedule is the best way to avoid sleep deprivation.ConclusionNapping provides many benefits, like improved memory and increased energy. Napping too late in the day, though, can make it hard to grow drowsy at bedtime and may cause a disruption in your sleep schedule. The length of a nap is also important because longer ones may result in sleep inertia and disorientation.Naps may provide many benefits, but they’re not a replacement for quality sleep. It’s important to still maintain a regular sleep schedule and get the recommended seven hours of sleep each night to avoid any sleep deprivation symptoms. When you’re in need of a quick recharge or have experienced an occasional night of restlessness, a nap can be a great way to reset.This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional. Comments Cancel replyLeave a CommentYour email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * Comment Name Email I agree to the Terms and Conditions of this website.