PSA: The Best ‘Nap Time’ For Humans Is Ten Minutes

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PSA: The Best ‘Nap Time’ For Humans Is Ten Minutes
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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.

A brief afternoon nap following nocturnal sleep restriction: which nap duration is most recuperative? [PubMed via Barking Up The Wrong Tree]

This story has been updated since its original publication.

Comments

  • How do you actually time a 10 minute nap? If you set your alarm as soon as you lie down, you’ll likely nap for less than 10 minutes – unless you can fall asleep instantaneously.

  • I’ve been using an app called PowerNap on Android. It’s basically just a timer for various lengths of nap. Plus it gives you a little bit of info on the length that you choose.

    I have a power nap in the afternoon, because I work two jobs. I generally use the “Original Power Nap”, which is 20 minutes. Taking out the time it takes to actaully fall asleep, my naps vary between 10-15 minutes. I notice as soon as the alarm goes off that I’m fully alert and boosting to go. It doesn’t really effect (affect??) my normal night-time sleep at all. I still start feeling tired at the same time of night. Just more alert for the hours after the nap, plus better mood.

    It takes a little bit of experimenting to get the timing right. Generally you’ll know if you’re napping too long, you’ll wake up not feeling very good at all, possibly with a headache. For me thats generally around the 20-30 minute mark (actual sleeping time).

    If you haven’t guessed, I’m a HUGE fan of the power nap. For someone like me, with very little spare time, it helps to make long work days easier to handle and I’m also more productive, for longer.

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