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The Pros and Cons of Napping (and How to Do it Right)

Most adults know that napping is hard to get right. You’ll either sleep too much or not enough, which can leave you even more tired than before you fell asleep. However, there’s a certain science to napping that you may be able to master if you understand your REM sleep cycle.

What are the Pros and Cons of Napping?

If you’re tired and you want to find some time to relax, consider taking a nap. However, napping too long can backfire, so you need to find the ideal time to nap based on your circadian rhythm. 

What are the Pros of Napping?

Napping offers various benefits for healthy adults, including relaxation, increased alertness, reduced fatigue, improved mood, better memory, and a quicker reaction time. There’s also evidence that people who nap regularly have a 37% lower risk of death from heart disease.

What are the Cons of Napping?

Napping isn’t for everyone. If you have difficulties sleeping during the day or can’t feel relaxed in a place other than your bed, you may not be able to fall asleep. Napping can also produce bad effects on your body, like nighttime sleep problems and sleep inertia (grogginess after a nap).

What’s the Ideal Length of Time for a Nap?

Your ideal nap time is dependent on your sleep goals. For example, you may be trying to make up for the time you lost during the night, or you may want to cut down on sleep debt. You may even just enjoy napping, which makes sense if you have a hard time relaxing any other way.

The length of your nap will directly impact the skills you’ll improve. A quick 10-20 minute nap will help you internalize information and feel more confident, while a 40-90 minute nap will develop your thinking skills. A 60-minute name can help improve emotion-processing skills and creativity.

How do I Get to Sleep Quickly When Napping?

If you plan on taking a nap when you aren’t that tired, you can try your hand at a few sleep hacks. For example, you could set the temperature in the room to 60–67°F (15.6–19.4°C), listen to relaxing music, or do something boring, like read a textbook or listen to a droning voice.

Although it makes more sense to nap when you’re tired, you need to be careful. If you’re so tired that you’re nodding off in the middle of the day, that could mean you’ve acquired a significant amount of sleep debt. This means you need to sleep longer at night or take longer naps.

When Should I Take a Nap During the Day?

The best time to take a nap during the day is 7-9 hours after you wake up. However, this rule assumes you have a natural sleep schedule that’s powered by your circadian rhythm. If you wake up and go to sleep at different times every night, a nap may disrupt your routine further.

If you’re feeling an afternoon dip in your energy, take a nap as soon as this happens, if you’re able. This will make it easier for you to fall asleep and wake up without inducing sleep inertia and delaying nighttime sleep. Never take a nap too late in the day or right after you wake up.

Is There Such a Thing as “Napping Too Long?”

While napping can be a useful tool when you’re tired, you can’t sleep for too long. If your nap lasts longer than 90 minutes, you’ll disrupt your natural sleep schedule. However, a 90-minute nap will take you through all the stages of sleep, which will help you feel more energized.

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