We all know that taking a nap completely reboosts your brain and refreshes your mind. It feels amazing, increases your energy, and gives you a little boost to keep you going through the day. But what a lot of people don’t know is that taking a nap requires a little bit of technique if you want. The Wall Street Journal offers some recommendations on what it takes to master the art of napping.
How long should I nap for?
The sleep experts in the article say a 10-to-20-minute power nap gives you the best “bang for your buck”. For a quick refresh, napping for 10-20 minutes is perfect to increase alertness and energy. But depending on what you are looking to get out of your nap, you may want to nap for a longer period of time.
For example, Dr. Mednick said that a 60 minute nap is what you would want if you are looking to improve cognitive functioning. It’s the perfect time to nap if you are looking for an intellectual boost. A downside to this length of nap is that you may notice some sluggishness initially after waking up. Ever notice how sometimes you wake up feeling more tired than you did before?
“If you take it longer than 30 minutes, you end up in deep sleep. Have you ever taken a nap and felt worse when you woke up? That’s what’s happening — you’re sleeping too long and you’re going into a stage of sleep that’s very difficult to get out of.” – Dr. Michael Breus
A 90 minute nap is ideal and will give you a full blown sleep cycle, which enhances creativity and gives your brain a chance to process data, emotions, and memories.
All in all, you can’t really go wrong with napping. In fact, a study published in PubMed in 2002 found that napping even for 5-10 minutes creates a heightened sense of alertness and increased cognitive ability in comparison to no nap. So really, you want to be taking a 10-20 minute nap for a quick recharge, or a 60-90 minute nap for a deep sleep rejuvenation. Anything in between 20 minutes and an hour, and you will wake up feeling more tired.
If you feel sluggish after a nap, it’s because you were in the middle of a deep sleep and cut your brain off from being in the middle of doing its job. Just give yourself time to wake up a bit, and you will still notice the benefits after the sluggishness wears off and your brain recoups. It’s also suggested that you sleep slightly upright if you are looking for just a short nap, because this will prevent you from falling into a deep sleep.
Here is a great video on the scientific power of naps: