To nap or not to nap: That is the question! You may think that taking a catnap will make you feel more tired than skipping it altogether, but that’s not necessarily true.
Timing is Key
The key to waking up refreshed from a nap is all about timing. Just 20 minutes is all you need to get the benefits of napping, such as improved alertness, enhanced performance, and a better mood. Naps of that length keep you in the lightest stage of non-REM sleep, making it easier for you to get up and go after your snooze session. Be sure to set an alarm so you don’t snooze for too long and wake up all groggy.
Nap for 30 to 60 minutes and you’ll hit the deeper stages of sleep, where your brain waves slow down, making you feel groggy (as if you have a sleep hangover) when you wake up (also known as sleep inertia also known as sleep drunkenness, this is the period immediately after waking when a person feels "foggy" or suffers decreased cognitive function. Click to learn more). It might not be worth it to nap at all if you’re going to nap for this amount of time because you’ll likely come out of your shuteye feeling less alert than before.
If you’re lucky enough to be able to lie down for 90 minutes, your body should have time to make it through one complete sleep cycle where you go from the lightest stage through the deepest stage of sleep and back again, so you’ll wake feeling refreshed. Bonus: Sleeping for this long has been shown to boost memory and creativity.