Everyone can benefit from a little afternoon shut-eye – no matter their age or health. But, there is a right way and a wrong way to make napping part of your routine. Learn more about how you can get the most out of taking a nap.
Benefits of napping
- Improves performance by restoring alertness, heightening creativity, improving memory and reducing mistakes
- Improves mood by providing relaxation and a rejuvenating escape in the middle of the day
- Improves health by combating sleep deprivation that can increase the stress hormone, cortisol
When and where to nap
It’s best to take a nap between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. This is typically midway through the workday, and the perfect time to combat post-lunch sluggishness and recharge for the second half of the day. A long nap, or one taken too late in the day, can interfere with nighttime sleep. Naps after 4 p.m. aren’t recommended.
Trying to force yourself into a nap will cause agitation, so put the odds in your favor by relaxing in an atmosphere that invites a good snooze. Find a comfortable, quiet spot to rest. The temperature should be cool. Limit as much light pollution as possible (eye pillows are excellent for daytime rest).
How long should I nap?
Deciding how long to nap depends on what you want from your afternoon ZZZs. When we sleep, our brain goes through a series of sleep stages. As a result, the length of a nap can provide different benefits.
- 10-20 minutes: A short nap can help increase stamina and give you a quick boost of energy. Limit short naps to 20 minutes. Sleep studies show that naps lasting 20-30 minutes leave people feeling groggy and unfocused.
- 60 minutes: An hour-long nap is helpful with memory processing. However, it typically leaves people feeling groggy.
- 90 minutes: The ideal nap, a 90-minute snooze lets the brain cycle through each sleep stage. It can help boost creativity, provide relaxation, reduce fatigue, clear your mind of clutter and help build procedural memories (the memories we store to do things in a step-by-step manner).
- The caffeine nap: If you need an immediate pick-me-up, some researchers suggest drinking a cup of coffee or other caffeinated beverage, then taking a quick 15-20 minute nap. The caffeine doesn’t have time to hinder your sleep and will kick-in in tandem with the benefits of the short power-nap.
Getting beyond the stigma
Naps are notoriously associated with the young, the old, the sick, or the lazy – or with people who have too much time on their hands. These stereotypes simply aren’t true. In fact, a nap is an easy and empowering way to take control of our personal wellbeing. So, get beyond the nap stigma. Don’t feel guilty about making choices that benefit your health. It’s naptime.
Do you struggle to sleep?
Sleep is important to overall health. If you struggle to sleep, talk to your Providence primary care provider. Don’t have a primary care provider? Providence Medical Group operates family medicine clinics across the state. Use our handy online tools to find a clinic or provider near you.