Most children view naps as punishment, but as adults, some long for the days when resting in the middle of the day was a major accomplishment that was met with praise.
Now, however, some think of napping as an indulgence that can rarely be afforded. The habit is considered childish or lazy. As if it that wasn’t enough of a deterrent, if you don’t rest correctly, you could wake up feeling worse than when you initially laid down.
To make matters even worse, poorly timed naps can lead to insomnia, making you feel more tired the next day and perpetuating an endless cycle of excessive daytime drowsiness.
While napping isn’t for everyone, most people find they can enjoy an afternoon siesta once they figure out the ideal type of nap for them. Depending on your sleep schedule and daily routine, you may require a longer or shorter rest period. Or, you may find that snoozing at odd hours helps get you through the day while supplementing your shuteye.
Different Types of Naps
Also called the “power nap,” it involves a short mid-day rest to recharge so that you can take over the world. The length of time you’re asleep should be about 20 to 25 minutes, and the ideal time to lie down is between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
You don’t have to be a CEO to enjoy this routine. Anyone who needs to feel refreshed to tackle a task or get through the rest of the day can benefit by taking a short rest.
Nap a Latte
More commonly referred to as a coffee nap, this involves downing a cup of coffee and then immediately going to sleep for 20 minutes. It sounds weird, but it typically works. The reason is that caffeine takes several minutes to enter your bloodstream.
So, when you drink coffee and then sleep for 20 minutes, by the time you wake up, the caffeine is starting to take effect. Not only should you feel more rested from your short sleep, but you should also get an energy boost from the caffeine.
Make sure you drink the coffee quickly so that it can enter your system in one fell swoop. If it’s too hot when you make it, drop a couple of ice cubes into the cup (or drink an iced coffee), and then it’s lights out.
New parents are chronically sleep deprived. It’s like a universal law. To get the shut-eye you need, you might have to resolve yourself to sleeping when your newborn is asleep. If they conk out at 10 a.m., plan to seize the moment so you can doze off around that time, too.
A lot of new moms and dads fantasize about all the things they can accomplish while their little one is asleep. As they get a few months older and settle into a routine, that dream can become a reality. But, in the beginning, it’s best to get the rest you need during the day to better equip you with the patience and fortitude you need at night to handle the frequent feeding interruptions.
Read More: How to Deal with Insomnia after Pregnancy
High-performance athletes can also benefit from a strategic napping schedule. Taking a brief snooze right before an event can help clear the mind and provide extra energy to get through a grueling physical and mental game.
The length of the sleep can vary, but if you’re nodding off right before the game, tournament, or race, then opt for something short, fifteen to twenty minutes at most. However, if you’re preparing for something that’s hours away, then a longer session of sixty to ninety minutes should provide even more benefits.
Studio 54 may be closed, but that doesn’t mean the party stops. If you’ve got to rally for a late-night party or a night out on the town, resting before you go out can give you the second wind you need to have a blast.
It’s not uncommon for a party or club to get going at 11 p.m., which might be around your bedtime. To ensure that you’re not one of those partygoers that fall asleep on the pile of coats in the spare bedroom, plan a 90-minute snooze session before you go out. It should function as a kind of mini-sleep. Ideally, you’ll wake up feeling ready to go.
Combine this strategy with a coffee nap, and you could feel even more revived.
To help prevent disrupting your sleep schedule, don’t oversleep the next day. Do your best to wake up as close to your regular waking time as possible.
Many cultures take rest in the afternoon, usually after lunch. Nearly the entire city or town will shut down for a couple of hours while everyone relaxes and digests their meals. These refreshing breaks allow people to enjoy their evenings instead of feeling the irresistible urge to collapse on the couch right after dinner.
Some workplaces are beginning to allow their employees to take a rest in the afternoons. If yours isn’t one of them, but you desperately need some shuteye, try to schedule a 20-minute break where you can go somewhere privately to get some shuteye.
Shift work is any working schedule that’s outside the traditional nine to five grind. It could include graveyard shifts, mid-day work or early morning shifts at a coffee bar, for example.
In cases like these, it can be a challenge to get adequate sleep when the rest of the world is sleeping. Shift workers are notorious for trying to stay up with friends and family, and then they struggle to get through their workdays while everyone they know is asleep.
Read More: How Shift Work Affects Your Natural Body Rhythm
To combat the fatigue, there are multiple ways to structure sleeping and naps to ensure that you get enough shuteye while living a semblance of a normal life. Here are some options:
- Try resting before the work day begins. It could be a CEO-style version or a more extended period of about 90 minutes.
- Schedule naps during the workday, especially at lunch or breaks.
- Divide your sleeping schedule into shifts. For example, dedicate a four-hour block of sleep and then schedule two 90-minute sessions during other parts of the day. This provides a full seven hours of sleep during a 24-hour period.
Need help? Check out our guide on how to sleep at work.
Teenagers have it rough when it comes to sleep. As their hormones shift, their sleep-wake cycles also change. They’re more apt to want to stay up late, but the early morning school bells mean that many of them are chronically sleep-deprived.
To prevent chronic exhaustion, a teen nap involves nodding off for about 20-minutes right after school. This practice should help them feel refreshed and recharged to do homework. Longer rests on the weekends should also be helpful as long as they’re done earlier in the day to avoid interfering with the ability to fall asleep on Sunday night.
Get More Info: How Much Sleep Do Teens Need?
Traveling across time zones can wreak havoc on one’s sleeping schedule. One of the best ways to adjust to this shift is to get shuteye on the plane, assuming it’s nighttime wherever you’re going. That should allow you to feel reasonably refreshed and ready to begin the day when you land.
Another option is to take a short snooze when you arrive at your destination. Again, about 20 minutes is all you should need to feel refreshed. If you sleep longer, you run the risk of waking up tired.
Find Out More: 13 Ways to Sleep Better While Traveling
Nap Length and What It Can Do
If you’re worried about waking up groggy, this nap length is ideal. You should spend all of your time in a very light to light doze. It should be enough to reset your mind and give you an energy boost without making it feel like you need to press a snooze button.
This longer rest period allows you to enter into a deeper slumber. This snoozing strategy should allow you to feel more well-rested, but some people might wake up groggy because they’re being woken in the middle of a sleep cycle. As a reminder, sleep cycles range from 60 to 110 minutes, with the average being about 90 minutes.
60 to 75-minute
If you’re looking for a boost in creativity, motivation, or inspiration, opting for an hour-long nap might be the way to go. It is typically long enough to enter REM (rapid eye movement), and you’re likely to wake up in the middle of a dream.
This length of time is considered perfect for napping because it encompasses an entire sleep cycle. You should get deep and restorative rest, yet you should wake up at the lightest part of your sleeping cycle, making it easier to rouse yourself out of bed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can it increase alertness?
Yes, napping has been known to increase alertness and cognitive ability for up to three hours afterward. It also can reduce on-the-job mistakes and accidents. So, if you need justification to your boss about why you’re sleeping in the supply room, share the following statistic from NASA: military pilots and astronauts who napped for 40 minutes had a 34% improvement in performance, and their alertness increased by 100%.
Are post workout naps good?
Yes, lying down after a workout could be an ideal time to sleep. During exercise, you’ve exerted a lot of energy and put a strain on tissues and muscles. Sleeping right afterward is a great time to repair and recover.
Learn More: Pros and Cons of Sleeping After Workout
Can I nap at work?
The short answer is, it depends. Some workplaces frown upon this practice while others encourage it. More companies are becoming cognizant of the benefits of napping during the day, so you may be one of the lucky employees who get to take a siesta after lunch.
If your workplace isn’t amenable to this habit, try to fit in a short rest during lunch or a longer break.
Interested in learning more? Check out our guide on how to sleep anywhere?
How long should college students nap?
College students may find that their need for sleep increases as they have long days and all-night study sessions. A 20 to 25-minute snooze may provide temporary relief, but if the student is studying for an exam or working on a demanding project, then a longer sleep may be in order. Typically, the most long-lasting effects of napping occur at about the 60 to 90-minute mark.
A lot of people claim that they aren’t nappers. They say that they wake up feeling tired, heavy, and drained. They say that they drag their feet for the rest of the day and feel even more tired when it’s time for bed.
Admittedly, a siesta isn’t right for everyone. It can mess up the sleep schedule of insomniacs or people suffering from depression. However, the general population, including the “nap-challenged,” may find that by adjusting the length of time that they sleep, they can become champion nappers in no time.
There's even a national day of napping – and what could be better than that?!
Jill Zwarensteyn is the editor for Sleep Advisor and a certified sleep science coach. She is enthusiastic about providing helpful and engaging information on all things sleep and wellness.
Based in Los Angeles, she is an experienced writer and journalist who enjoys spending her free time at the beach, hiking, reading, or exploring new places around town.
She’s also an avid traveler who has a personal goal of being able to successfully sleep on an airplane someday.