“You must sleep sometime between lunch and dinner, and no halfway measures,” wrote Winston Churchill.
Like Churchill, a lot of us are dedicated nappers. In fact, the older we get, the more likely we are to nap. That may seem like an innocent enough pleasure. But for decades researchers have been studying napping to understand how it affects everything from health to nighttime sleep patterns, and a few studies have raised red flags, including one that linked napping to health problems. But how long is good?
Here are some of the common nap timings and their effects :
- 10-20 minutes – This power nap is ideal for a boost in alertness and energy. This length usually limits you to the lighter stages of non rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, making it easier to hit the ground running after waking up.
- 30 minutes – Some studies show sleeping this long may cause sleep inertia, a hangover like groggy feeling that lasts for up to 30 minutes after waking up, before the nap’s restorative benefits become apparent.
- 60 minutes – This nap is best for improvement in remembering facts, faces and names. It includes slow wave sleep, the deepest type. The downside, some grogginess upon waking up.
- 90 minutes – This is a full cycle of sleep, meaning the lighter and deeper stages, including REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, typically likened to the dreaming stage. This leads to improved emotional and procedural memory (i.e. riding a bike, playing the piano) and creativity. A nap of this length typically avoids sleep inertia, making it easier to wake up.