Feeling tired? Maybe You Should Take a Nap.. or NOT?


Businessman Napping on Park Bench

A growing body of research has concluded that taking a nap during the day may be the smart thing to do when you feel the need to snooze. A study conducted at the Harvard Medical School determined that napping (especially when accompanied by dreaming) led to improvements in learning abilities and memory. And, leading technology companies like Apple and Google believe sleeping on the job is a good thing for their employees. But, knowing when to take a nap and how long can be tricky.

Generally speaking our bodies are programmed to be awake during the day and asleep at night, a phenomenon known as the circadian rhythm. Although some people may not feel sleepy during the day, others hit a mid-afternoon hump that may be the natural rhythms of their body. So, what is the right amount of time to sleep in order to get the most benefit out of your nap?  

10 to 20 Minute Nap - This is often referred to as a Power Nap and it limits sleep to lighter stages of non-rapid eye movement making it easier to wake up refreshed.

30 Minute Nap - This is a less than ideal amount of time to sleep and often leads to sleep inertia or groggy feelings that can last as long as the nap.

60 Minute Nap - Although an hour nap allows for the deepest type of sleep and does seem to improve memory consolidation, it too can lead to unwanted feelings of grogginess.

90 Minute Nap - This is the right amount of time for a full-cycle of sleep that improves emotional and procedural memory. It also allows you to avoid sleep inertia or grogginess.

Taking a nap is like rebooting your brain. If done correctly, it can eliminate sleepiness and restore your mental alertness. It is however important to note that bad eating habits and not getting enough sleep the night before can also contribute to one's lack of energy. Like other lifestyle issues, it is important to make an honest assessments of your needs and take the time to implement the most appropriate action plan. Just remember, sleep experts say a 10 to 20-minute Power Nap can deliver the best results for the time spent napping during the day.

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