Discover The Best Nap Length, Tips & Benefits For Mid-Day Snoozes

Plus: when you should doze off.

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At one point or another, we've all wondered: what is the best length for a nap? After all, we all love to doze off for as long as possible when we're feeling sleepy in the middle of the day, but a three-hour rest is far from ideal. To help you feel as energized as possible we did the research to find out the best nap length.

What is the best nap length? 

The best nap length ranges anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour. As it turns out, how long the ideal nap is depends on what effect you want it to have. According to sleep experts interviewed by The Wall Street Journal, a 10-20 minute nap is best for those who want a boost to alertness. A 60-minute nap helps with cognitive memory processing, and therefore might be best for people who are studying for exams, but the downside is that it often comes with a bit of grogginess.

What are the benefits of napping?

A 90-minute nap helps aid creativity and emotional and procedural memory, so it's good for artists, people who are learning a new skill, or those who need to emotionally recharge. The latter also allows you to go through an entire sleep cycle, so it's the least likely to make you feel groggy upon waking up.

The findings are bolstered by sleep expert Jennifer Ackerman, who told The Guardian that taking a short nap (defined as less than 45 minutes) are best if you need to immediately spring into action once you wake up. To give your alertness an ever bigger boost, she suggests drinking coffee immediately before you start to snooze, since caffeine requires around 30 minutes to take effect, meaning it will kick in just as you wake up.

However, if you didn't get enough sleep the night before and have a little time to catch up during the day, a 90-minute nap will be the most effective way to help your brain recharge. Especially since daytime sleepiness has recently been linked to dementia.

Whatever amount you choose, there's no denying that there's an increasing body of research that indicates that taking a nap is really good for you, and not a sign of laziness as previously assumed.

"A slew of recent studies have shown that naps boost alertness, creativity, mood, and productivity in the later hours of the day," Ackerman wrote. "Napping reduces stress and lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke, diabetes, and excessive weight gain."

What is the best time to nap?

If you're wondering when the best time to take a nap is, the answer is that it depends on your chronotype. If you're a lark, you'll feel the need for a nap around 1 pm. If you're a night owl, you'll need one closer to 3 pm.

Quick napping tips: 

  • Find the best time in your schedule.
  • Don't be stressed about falling asleep right away.
  • Try a power nap.
  • Set a timer so you don't sleep too long (somewhere between 10-60 min).
  • Try drinking caffeine before so you don't wake up groggy.

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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