How to Take the Perfect Nap

How to Take the Perfect Nap
5 min read
08 May 2022

Research has shown a full night’s sleep is  good for your memory, mood, and immune system,   just to name a few benefits. But what about  taking a nap during the day? Is it helpful or   harmful? How does the length of the nap impact  you? And is there an optimal time to grab a quick   snooze?

Thankfully researchers have looked into  this too, and much like an unconscious body on   a couch in the afternoon sun, the results need  to be laid out. Depending on a person’s age,   napping is downright necessary.

Generally  speaking, the younger a person is, the more   sleep their developing brains & bodies need,  so experts recommend that newborns get 14 to   17 hours of sleep, while preschoolers should get  10 to 13 hours of shuteye every day. That's a  long time to spend unconscious—that's like cat-levels of napping— so it’s not going to happen all in a row. The kiddos   need to take naps, no matter how much they  kick and scream when they hear it’s nap time.  Guidelines also say that kids age 6 to 13  should get anywhere from 9 to 11 or even 12   hours of sleep daily, so if you’re in junior high  and keep nodding off in class, let the teacher   know a science YouTube video says it’s healthy.  It won’t get you out of detention but your   instructors can share a good laugh later in the  teacher’s lounge.

Once people are adults though,   do they really need to sneak in a siesta? Strictly  speaking, it doesn’t seem like something we as a   species need to do. Our modern way of life with  our 9 to 5 jobs and our fancy electric light bulbs   might have altered how we sleep compared to our  ancient ancestors. So to see if that’s the case,   researchers studied 94 individuals from  current-day hunter-gatherer groups in Tanzania,   Namibia, and Bolivia who live more like humans  did 10,000 years ago. While almost all of them   would take a break in the middle of the day  when the sun was beating down, none of them   would take that time to catch some Zs.

So it doesn’t look like napping is   something humans would do intrinsically if  it weren’t for the demands of modern life.  Napping isn’t necessary for adults, but it  still could have potential upsides. Because   our brains go through different stages during  sleep, the benefits of a nap are correlated with   its length. If you find yourself slowing down  in the middle of the day after lunch, a quick   20 minute power nap could be all you need to wake  up feeling refreshed and alert. A short nap could   also help your memory in some ways, but longer  naps could have bigger benefits to learning and   recall. Konking out for 60 minutes could help  you with remembering vocabulary or directions. 

Staying asleep for an hour to an hour and a half  will allow your brain to enter REM sleep and some   research has found that the benefits for learning  are on par with getting a full night’s rest.  The perfect nap length will  vary from person to person.  The 20 minute power nap isn’t a hard and  fast rule; you may get the same benefits   from as little as 10 minutes of  sleep or as much as 45 minutes.   Be warned though: allowing your brain to  go into the deep sleep stage could lead to   what’s called “sleep inertia,” where you  wake up feeling groggy and paradoxically   more tired. Taking a nap at the wrong time of day  can also make it difficult to fall asleep later   that night. If you’re on that 9 to 5 grind, try  to avoid napping after 4 pm. I guess that means   you’ll have to nap at work. Again do not try  to pin this on me if your boss doesn’t approve.  

Regular nappers appear to get more out of  it than those who don’t doze off daily.  They might feel sharper and in better  spirits compared to their counterparts,   who feel sluggish after waking.I wish I could say  this was a case where they had honed their napping   abilities by being dedicated to their craft  because it would mean I finally have a chance to   truly be great at something, but it’s possible  that people who nap regularly choose to do so   because they get benefits from it. In other words,  they’re a self-selecting bunch, and people who   find themselves feeling icky after a nap likely  won’t do it as often. If you fall into that second   category of people then maybe naps just aren’t  for you, but hey at least there’s always coffee.  If you have trouble getting to sleep you may use  a white noise machine, but would it help more if   your noise was pinker? 

In case you have found a mistake in the text, please send a message to the author by selecting the mistake and pressing Ctrl-Enter.
Kevin 717
Joined: 2 years ago
Comments (1)
You must be logged in to comment.

Sign In / Sign Up