Why You Need to Nap More and What’s The Perfect Nap Length

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The Perfect Nap Length for the Biggest Brain Benefits

You don’t need to take brain supplements to boost its health. All you need to do is to nap. In this article I will cover the brain benefits of napping, and what is the perfect nap length for the biggest brain benefits.

You may feel guilty when you feel the urge to nap during a workday. Although napping at work is often taboo, emerging scientific evidence suggests that naps – even very short ones – significantly enhance cognitive function and productivity, as well as other benefits.



The Perfect Nap Length for the Biggest Brain Benefits

What are the benefits of naps?

1. Cognitive function – Did it ever happen to you that you were struggling for hours with a problem, and then when you rested your eyes for a short time you suddenly found the answer and things became clearer? In these cases your brain feels refreshed, stimulated and more alert, and your attention and concentration are improved.

A small study found that 20 min nap in the mid-afternoon had positive effects upon maintaining daytime vigilance level, and improved performance level and self-confidence of the participants in their task performance.

It’s no wonder that naps are beneficial for us. During the day we are exposed to a lot of information, and napping protects the brain from overuse and helps it to absorb new information, so learning and memory are improved.


2. Improving heart healthA large research from 2007 from the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Athens Medical School found that midday napping reduced coronary mortality by about one third among men and women. The study found that people who regularly took naps at least three times per week for an average of at least 30 minutes, had a 37% lower coronary mortality than those not taking naps.

The researchers believe that an afternoon nap may contribute to stress-releasing process, and this reduces both short and long term adverse effects on mortality from coronary heart disease.

3. Naps also make up for sleep disorders – I’ve already written about the 23 dangers of sleep deprivation, so if you suffer from insomnia or have problems to fall asleep, then short naps will help you to feel more alert and will enable you to function better. As a side note – if you any issues falling asleep, you can read my other article about the best foods to get better sleep.


4. They relax you – the stress hormone cortisol dramatically drops after napping.

What is the best nap length?

The ideal duration of a nap is still being debated, and the most useful nap depends on what the napper needs or wants to achieve.

Napping can be broken down into few stages:

1. A short power nap of 10-20 minutes is good for a quick improvement of your alertness and energy level and will enable you to get back to work quickly.

2. A nap of about 30 minutes will provide you a mental sharpness similar to the 10-20 minute nap, with that sharpness lasting a bit longer, but the downside is that people tend to feel groggy immediately after this kind of nap.

3. A longer nap of 60 minutes is good to process cognitive memory (such as faces, names and facts), but the downside is some grogginess upon waking.


4. A long nap of 90 or more – this can provide you a full sleep cycle which improves procedural memory (such as riding a bike or playing the piano) and creativity. Waking up after it usually has minimal amount of grogginess.

When taking shorter naps, it is recommended to sleep partially upright to make it easier to wake up and to avoid falling into a deeper sleep. Another trick to waking up perky after a short nap is to drink a cup of coffee before sleeping. Caffeine won’t hurt such a short break and should lessen the effect of grogginess.

So to summarize, if you are looking for a quick boost or recharge, you are looking at a short nap of about 10-20 minutes. However if you are looking for deeper sleep rejuvenation, you are looking at a longer nap of about 60-90 minutes.

What is the ideal time for napping?

Most of us feel tired between 1 and 4 pm, so try to fit your nap during those hours. Don’t make it later otherwise it can interfere with your ability to fall asleep at bedtime.

So if your boss caught you napping at work, now you will know how to defend yourself and your napping habit, or next time just try to nap out of sight…

Taking advantage of the power nap is also one of the 70 habits featured in my e-book 70 Powerful Habits For A Great Health which will guide you how to take positive steps to improve your wellness and overall health.

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6 Responses to Why You Need to Nap More and What’s The Perfect Nap Length

  1. Sebastijan Veselic says:

    Another good and important thing about napping to note is that, by making it a habit and doing it daily, our body becomes more accustomed to it, and therefore more effective at it, because of which the short power nap we do on a daily basis becomes even more effective! Because of that reason it is also the best to do it at around the same time every day 🙂

  2. mark powlett says:

    I wonder how you could nap for a dew minutes and be woken up with an alarm without a start? Then you could sneakily do it in the office.

    • Suki Drake says:

      I did accounting years ago. I used to have a battery powered alarm clock in my car. I used to take a 20 minute nap in my car on my lunch hour.

  3. Susie McGuire says:

    If I nap for too long I get a headache. And I enjoy the nap SO MUCH that those little naps don’t cut it. Love me some sleep!

  4. Gail Ruginis says:

    Having suffered with chronic pain for many years, I always wake up 6 to 10 times a night in pain and having difficulty moving. I’ve always had to nap and am thrilled to finally hear that it is okay to do so. My naps last from 60 to 90 minutes and depending on the night before, I can even take 2, one in the morning and then in the afternoon. I would be a basket-case without my napping. Finally someone is understanding the need for them!

    • Anonymous says:

      This is what is teach to Muslim since the beginning of Islam, to take a short nap between Zohor prayer time( usually Around 1230hrs to 1300hrs) and Asar prayer time ( Around 1530hrs to 1600hrs) daily..the scientist just found out about it 1400++ years later….

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