Why should you take the best-recommended length of nap every day? Because sleep experts say there are a ton of benefits of napping for the right number of minutes. By the way, naps have various names depending on their length. Now, did you know that?
The key to drawing the most benefits from power napping is its length. Too long makes us go into a deep sleep stage, leaving us groggy on waking up. Too little is not enough to be any good for health.
So, how long should you be napping? Read on to find out what is the best nap length according to the sleep researchers.
What Is The Best Nap Length?
- 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 is the most ideal nap length because it completes a full-length sleep cycle.
For any restorative benefit from a nap, keep it under 30 minutes. If the nap length is over that mark, you are going to wake up sleepy and tired. That is because you have been abruptly pulled out from a deep sleep stage you had entered after thirty minutes. That’s a bad feeling to have after a nap.
So, if you are looking for a short nap that is more than a power nap, give yourself a full 90 minutes long nap to wake up refreshed and energized. That’s because a full sleep cycle takes 90 minutes.
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.
Research says the best time to nap for older adults is between 1 to 4 pm.
How Many Types of Naps Are There?
Depending on the time interval, there are 4 types of a nap:
- Ultra-short nap: 6 to 10 minutes
- Power nap or Catnap: 10 to 20 minutes
- Short nap: 30 to 45 minutes
- 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:
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.
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If you suffer from poor sleep, check this out: Six Scientific Sleep Hacks.
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Author Bio: Marquis Matson is a freelance writer living in Ecuador. Her study background is in Psychology. Marquis feels the digital age provides easy solutions to help us fall asleep. Edited and reviewed by Sandip Roy—a medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher. Founder and Chief Editor of The Happiness Blog. Writes on mental health, happiness, positive psychology, mindfulness, and philosophy (especially Stoicism).
Disclosure: This post may include affiliate links.