Naps can offer significant health and wellbeing benefits, including increased alertness, better memory, improved mood and reduced fatigue. Learn how to time them right so that you can make the most of them.
Keep naps short
Short, 10- to 20-minute naps are best when you’re trying to recover from interrupted sleep or general fatigue. Having one can raise your mood, improve your learning ability, help you be more resilient to stress and boost your memory.
If you nap for longer, you risk putting yourself into sleep inertia – which is the groggy feeling people sometimes experience after a nap. Sleep inertia tends to be worse when you nap for 30-60 minutes rather than 10-15 minutes and can make you less coordinated, focused and alert. This increases your risk of accident and injury, so it’s important not to drive or perform safety-critical work straight after waking from a nap.
Power naps aren’t your only choice
Planned or prophylactic naps can last several hours and help to boost your alertness and manage fatigue. This type of nap is taken in preparation for sleep loss and is a great option for night shift workers.
Some people may nap simply for the enjoyment of it, and children will often have fulfilment naps scheduled into their days because they have a greater need for sleep than adults. Naps are also common when you’re ill because your immune system needs extra energy to fight infection or promote healing.
How you respond to napping can be very personal, so it’s important to experiment to find out what works best for you. Some people with sleep disorders like insomnia may need to avoid napping to improve their chances of getting quality sleep.
And just like when you have a full sleep, napping requires the right rest environment – and it’s best to set an alarm so you don’t oversleep.