I recently was at a conference and got to have a drink with a Harvard sleep researcher. I asked him about napping as I love naps!!!! He also loves naps!!!! I learned some very interesting things from him:
- Napping is a not a good substitute for a good night’s sleep. Don’t plan on skimping on sleep and making it up with a nap – view a nap more as topping off your tank.
- However, napping can be very beneficial. A good nap can increase productivity, cognitive function, memory and creativity. And if done correctly a nap can also make you feel less tired.
- The best time to nap for most adults is mid-afternoon (2-3pm). Naps taken during this time period likely won’t interfere with your nighttime sleep and occur during most people’s natural low energy, drowsy time of day.
- The optimal nap length for most people is around 20 minutes. Over 25- 30 minutes likely will make you groggy as you will have moved into deeper sleep and unless you can make it through a full sleep cycle you’ll feel quite groggy. To get through all five states of a full sleep cycle you need 90-120 minutes – so if you don’t have that long to nap, you’re best off with a nap of no longer than 20 minutes.
- If you are going down for a nap it might make sense to have a cup of caffeinated coffee first. It takes about 20 minutes or so for the caffeine to kick in so it will help just as you are getting up from your nap.