What Is The Best Length For A Nap (For An Adult Like You)

Why should you take the best-recommended length of nap every day?

Sleep experts say the key to drawing the most benefits from napping is to nap for the right number of minutes.

Too long and we go into a deep sleep stage, leaving us groggy when we wake up. Too short and it is not enough to be any good for our health.

Did you know that naps have different names based on how long they are? For example, a 20-minute nap is called a “catnap.”

So, how long should you be napping?

What Is The Best Length For A Nap?

The best length for a nap in adults is about 20 minutes, and less than 30 minutes. A 20-minute nap lets the person get some light sleep, which boosts post-nap alertness. However, if the nap length is over 30 minutes, the napper wakes up sleepy and tired since they entered the deep sleep stage.

These are some recommended nap lengths according to sleep researchers:

  • Less than 30 minutes is the best length for a power nap to boost creativity, productivity, memory, and mood.
  • 10 to 20 minutes of daily nap is the second-best nap length for most people.
  • 6 minutes of ultra-short nap can help improve one’s explicit memory, as research suggests.
  • 90 minutes may be the ideal nap length because it completes one full-length sleep cycle.

Experts suggest the best napping time for older adults: between 1 to 4 pm.

A nap should be restorative, not leaving you feeling exhausted and frozen for some time. So, keep ypour naps under 30 minutes each.

If you sleep over that mark in the day, you are going to wake up groggy and confused since you have been abruptly pulled out from deep sleep that you had been into after thirty minutes.

the best nap length and benefits of napping

In a 90-minute sleep cycle, you are able to go through all the stages of sleep, including REM sleep or the dream stage sleep, which plays a crucial part in resolving our mental conflicts. This one full cycle of sleep is the ideal nap length to go for if one gets the time.

How Many Types of Naps Are There?

Depending on the time interval, there are 4 types of a nap:

  1. Ultra-short nap: 6 to 10 minutes
  2. Power nap or Catnap: 10 to 20 minutes
  3. Short nap: 30 to 45 minutes
  4. Full nap: 90 minutes

6 Benefits of A Nap of Right Length

Naps not only fulfill the doze-deficits of our sleep-deprived generation but also have an array of other health benefits.

For one, it can improve memory. Scientists found people who napped for 30 to 90 minutes had better word recall. Even for those who usually get proper sleep at night, the extra minutes of daytime napping benefit us in terms of mood, mental alertness, and brain performance.

Napping is not only for babies and children, it is of wholesome advantage for grown-ups too. Taking a nap, as a stress-relieving technique, can reverse the early effects of stress, and put you in a happier mood. By the way, happiness is the ultimate currency, as positive psychologist Tal Ben-Shahar says

We compiled a list of six superior science-backed benefits of a daily nap:

1. Reduce Risk of Heart Attacks

Companies nowadays are encouraging what they once considered a strict taboo—sleeping on the job. Twenty to thirty minutes of rest can significantly improve a person’s productivity as well as heart health.

European Society of Cardiology (Long naps may be bad for health, 2020) discovered that a 30-minute nap could substantially reduce the risk of cardiovascular events by 10%. Moreover, they detected that higher blood pressure is present among those who refused to take a breather from their work.

So, whenever you feel tired, don’t push it at the cost of your heart. Instead, take a quick break for a relaxing nap.

2. Raises Happiness And Alertness

At the end of the day, it all comes down to a simple question: Are you happy in your life right now?

If not, then you can only be half-hearted in trying to stay productive and creative? Not only do you suffer in your personal and professional lives, but your family endures with you as well. Without happiness, you spread your negative vibes all around you.

But a proper daily nap can help you get a mood boost.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), tested its personnel and found that midday naps enhanced the alertness of astronauts and military pilots by a full 100%.

Companies like Google have sleep pods installed in their offices for nap breaks. But if you are not so lucky as to be working at Google, find a couch, turn off the lights and lie down for a midday nap — it won’t take too long for your body and brain to refill the batteries. And make you happier!

3. Lessen The Mental Pains

From time to time, our thoughts and sensations seem to overwhelm us. At those times, waiting for the inner storm to subside is not a very effective strategy to calm your mind.

You may sometimes find it impossible to take a nap because of the intensity of the inner chatter in your brain. It can push you to the edge of exhaustion. At such times, seek medical help.

4. Help Handle Burnouts Better

Many people get misled about the actual meaning of burnout. In reality, the term is not a complete reflection of the number of hours you spend at your desk. It also refers to the factors around you and the level of social support you get to execute a particular task.

Naps can help you handle burnout better. A 2015 study in the journal Personality and Individual Differences found a 60-minute midday nap can help a person better control their impulses. The study said that nappers could tolerate frustration better than those who did not nap.

Sometimes you need to cool off for a while before drawing any conclusions on the spot. Use a break time to compose yourself by closing your eyes and getting a broader perspective of your problem. Taking a nap can help you with that.

5. Speeds Up Muscle Recovery

Experts consider sleep deprivation as the number one factor triggering muscle inflammation and joint pains. During intensive workouts, the muscle fibers break. The body needs rest to rebuild and restructure.

Taking a day off is a technique regularly practiced by all athletes and bodybuilders to allow the body to replenish its “supplies of energy.” At a daily level, you can do that by napping. A nap can boost the recovery of your sore muscles.

6. Improve The Immune System

Science suggests hitting the hay at midday can help us fight infections and inflammation better. A nap can increase the number of immune-regulating molecules floating in our bodies. They significantly help the body to recover faster. Just 30-minutes would do.

Sleep and our immune system have a two-way relationship. An immune response, like that caused by a viral infection, can affect sleep. And in turn, sleep affects the immune system in its ability to function in a balanced and effective way.

This study found better sleep during an infection aids the immune system to up its host defense. When there is no infectious challenge, sleep seems to reduce inflammation through effects on several mediators, such as cytokines. A prolonged sleep loss can lead to chronic, systemic low-grade inflammation.

Lack of rest negatively affects the metabolic system, brain functions, and overall performance. Of all the nap benefits outlined here, this is going to give you a longer life.

Your vigilance to cope with the pressure and withstand mental attacks depends on your habits and beliefs. Research at the University of Paris, Sorbonne, found sleep deprivation indeed harms the immune system.

Watch this short video by Sara Mednick, a sleep scientist:

Final Words

We outlined only a handful of nap benefits you can get from a quick daytime slumber. If you adopt this habit, you will quickly begin to feel the difference both at work and at home.

As the book blurb of Take A Nap! Change Your Life says:

“Imagine a product that increases alertness, boosts creativity, reduces stress, improves perception, stamina, motor skills, and accuracy, enhances your sex life, helps you make better decisions, keeps you looking younger, aids in weight loss, reduces the risk of heart attack, elevates your mood, and strengthens memory.

“Now imagine that this product is nontoxic, has no dangerous side effects, and, best of all, is free. This miracle drug is, in fact, nothing more than the nap: the right nap at the right time.”

So, take that emotional burden off your shoulders by dozing off a few minutes every day, and then move confidently towards your goals.

Researched and reviewed by Dr. Sandip Roy — medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher.

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If you suffer from poor sleep, read the best Six Scientific Sleep Hacks.

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When it comes to mental well-being, you don't have to do it alone. Going to therapy to feel better is a positive choice. Therapists can help you work through your trauma triggers and emotional patterns.