How Long Should You Nap for?
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How Long Should You Nap for?

By Ayah Orynbay

Have you ever taken a nap where you woke up even more tired than you were before falling asleep? Well, there are actually scientifically proven ways for you to prevent drowsiness and get the best results from your naps. 

Napping not only feels good, but it also increases creativity, happiness, memory recall, health, and much more. According to a study by the Sleep Research Society, people who nap at least twice a week reduce their risk for heart disease by 12%, and those who nap three times a week reduce this risk by up to 37%. Although taking a nap has many benefits, napping for too long may cause sleep inertia, the groggy and tired feeling you experience when you wake up in the morning. The good news is that there are ways to avoid sleep inertia and increase your quality of life by napping! 

The timing of your naps is key. If you are looking for a quick energy boost, a 10-20 minute power nap is your best bet. You can nap for just long enough to feel less tired without entering deep sleep. For days when you want to sleep a bit longer, NASA has deemed 26 minutes to be the ideal nap time. But be careful, for taking a nap longer than 30 minutes increases your chances of experiencing sleep inertia. 

If you’re willing to take the risk, however, longer naps may have specific benefits. A 60 minute nap is great for memorizing information during your last-minute study session, since it takes 30-60 minutes for our brain waves to begin slowing down and for us to sink into deep sleep. In deep sleep, our memories are pushed to our neocortex, the outermost layer of the brain where memories are believed to be stored. If you choose to sleep a half hour longer than that, you can achieve a full sleep and dream cycle, which improves creativity, emotional memory, and procedural memory. These longer naps may help you learn a new skill faster by activating the hippocampus, an area of the brain in charge of learning and memory. Since you go through the full sleep cycle, it is unlikely that you will experience sleep inertia. 

Therefore, the optimal nap duration depends on your desired outcome. Shorter naps of 10-20 minutes can provide an energy boost and longer naps of 60-90 minutes can improve memory and creativity. So go grab a cozy blanket and enjoy your snooze, but be careful!


References

Edwards, V. V. (2022, June 17). How long to nap: Ideal nap lengths for the perfect shut-eye. Science of People. https://www.scienceofpeople.com/how-long-to-nap/#:~:text=Sleep%20experts%20say%20naps%20make,%2Dterm%20memory%2C%20and%20mood

McCallum, K. (2019, October 30). How to plan the Perfect nap. Houston Methodist On Health. https://www.houstonmethodist.org/blog/articles/2019/oct/how-to-plan-the-perfect-nap/#:~:text=In%20reality%2C%20Dr.,the%20deeper%20stages%20of%20sleep

Todorov, G. (2023, April 12). 22 impressive napping statistics 2023 [facts and benefits]. ThriveMyWay. https://thrivemyway.com/napping-statistics/ 

Weir, K. (2016). The Science of Naps. Monitor on Psychology. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2016/07-08/naps 

Yamada, T., Hara, K., Shojima, N., Yamauchi, T., & Kadowaki, T. (2015, December 1). Daytime napping and the risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality: A prospective study and dose-response meta-analysis. Sleep. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4667384/ 

Boonyen. (2019, November 27). Young man sleep at night in bed, good sleep concept, hand-drawn style. iStock. https://www.istockphoto.com/vector/young-man-sleep-at-night-in-bed-good-sleep-concept-hand-drawn-style-vector-gm1190323362-337383742