Naps are a great way to recharge our brains and boost our energy, but we don't always have time for long siestas. Good news: Research published in Sleep suggests the best nap length is just 10 minutes - longer naps can lead to detrimental 'sleep inertia'.
Australian researchers studied twenty-four young adults who sleep well at night but don't normally nap. The participants napped for five, 10, 20 and 30 minutes (plus a control group with no napping) and then were measured for three hours afterwards. The results:
The 5-minute nap produced few benefits in comparison with the no-nap control. The 10-minute nap produced immediate improvements in all outcome measures (including sleep latency, subjective sleepiness, fatigue, vigor, and cognitive performance), with some of these benefits maintained for as long as 155 minutes.
The 20-minute nap was associated with improvements emerging 35 minutes after napping and lasting up to 125 minutes after napping. The 30-minute nap produced a period of impaired alertness and performance immediately after napping, indicative of sleep inertia, followed by improvements lasting up to 155 minutes after the nap.
We've seen before that naps that are too long or timed poorly can actually backfire.
While the perfect amount of time you should nap for may vary, if you're not sure how long to snooze or your naps just aren't cutting it, give the ten-minute power nap (also known as a nano nap) a try. Don't forget to time your nap right too.
This story has been updated since its original publication.