Finding the best nap length can be the trickiest part of a midday snooze. Is 20 minutes OK? What about 30, or even 60? In order to make waking easy (we all know that terrible groggy feeling that accompanies some naps) and prevent your afternoon siesta from affecting your bedtime, your power naps should be short and sweet.
“Short power naps can give your brain a boost, allowing you to better problem solve, concentrate, and make decisions,” said Chris Brantner, a sleep coach and the founder of the website SleepZoo, which writes about all things sleep-related. Wait, a 20-minute nap hardly seems fair given how hard you work, right? Before you hit snooze and roll back over, Brantner has some words of caution: “Once you hit the 30 minute mark, you run the risk of experiencing sleep inertia,” he told Bustle. “This is when you awake feeling groggy and exhausted, despite having slept.”
The reason your brain experiences that annoying mental fog after a catnap is because it’s entered deep-sleep mode, which is hard to wake from. “If you nap long enough to enter into slow-wave sleep, you’re going to need to sleep through your entire sleep cycle (about 90 minutes) so you can awake during light sleep and feel better,” Brantner explained.
Sadly, most of us don’t have 90 minutes during the day to take a full nap. And even if we did, sleep experts say it isn’t great for your health either. “Excessive napping can cause your body’s internal sleep/wake rhythm to be knocked off kilter,” Vanessa H. Roddenberry, PhD, told Bustle. “If you ‘snack’ on sleep during the day, your body won’t be as hungry for it at night.” Then, you’ll be stuck tossing and turning until the wee hours instead of sleeping peacefully.
It stinks having to pull yourself out of bed or off the couch after a nap — but if you time it right, you should awake feeling refreshed and revitalized. Then, you can go off to conquer the world.