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To nap or not to nap?

Guestpert : Kenneth Rippetoe Category : Health, Fitness, and Beauty Tags : sleep, sleep patterns, sleep success, nap, napping

Kenneth is the founder and head coach of One with the Water, a nonprofit swim school that offers need-based scholarships to children with special needs, adults, low-income families, and service-disabled Veterans. He is a certified US Paralympic Disabilities Swim Coach and a strength and conditioning coach.


To nap or not to nap, that is the question. Personally, I say a resounding yes, and thankfully there is a robust body of research to bolster my position. There is an art to the length of a nap so pay attention. A 10-20 minute nap leaves you feeling refreshed. (Also known as the famous power nap). 45-60 mins means you wake up mid-sleep cycle, creating the dreaded nap hangover, and should be avoided at all costs. 90 minutes is ideal if you are lucky enough to have a schedule that allows you that luxury. An hour and a half carries you through one full sleep cycle from lightest to deepest back to lightest, and should allow you to wake up feeling alert. Studies also show napping for this length of time can improve memory and creativity Anything longer than an hour and a half to two hours creates the risk of disrupting your nighttime sleep patterns and throwing off your natural circadian rhythms https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1365-2869.2008.00718.x Now let’s talk about the benefits of napping. The research is clear and there is a lot of it. A quick midday nap can give you better reaction time, a higher emotional tolerance, increased alertness, and improved memory. In fact, a 2010 study done by UC Berkeley shows that napping can clear the brain’s short-term memory storage and make room for new information, boosting your cognitive performance post nap. Additionally, a new study published in 2018 shows that napping can sort through our subconscious clutter, improving our decision making processes post snooze. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jsr.12728 And finally, when should you nap? It turns out there is, in fact, a perfect napping window. A large body of research shows that 2-3 in the afternoon is prime nap time. This specific window is tied to your circadian rhythms, early enough that you don’t interfere with your evening sleep habits, and right in the middle of the post-lunch haze. And don't forget to keep your sleep environment the same as if you were going to bed, dark, quiet, and cool.