Maybe You Could Use a Nap

May 23, 2018

A recent Gallup poll found that while most health providers recommend adults get 7-9 hours of sleep each night, folks in the United States currently average 6.8 hours of sleep at night. Odds are, you could use a nap.

People nap for different reasons. For some it is to make up for lost sleep, for some it is in preparation of sleep loss, and for others, it can be just for enjoyment.

However, evidence is mounting that sleep—even a nap—appears to enhance information processing and learning. New experiments by National Institute of Mental Health  show that a midday snooze reverses information overload.

The National Sleep Foundation suggests two optimum nap times: the first is the quintessential cat or power nap of twenty minutes. Naps of that length keep you in the lightest stage of non-REM sleep, making it easier for you to get up and go after your snooze session with improved alertness, enhanced performance, and a better mood. A nap of 30-60 minutes will leave you feeling groggy, but if you’ have time to lie down for 90 minutes, your body should have time to make it through one complete sleep cycle so you’ll wake feeling refreshed. The ninety minute nap also has the added bonus of boosting memory and creativity.

Be careful though, a 2015 study of college students’ napping habits found that those who frequently took long naps between 6 and 9 p.m. had poorer overall sleep quality, probably because their late naps interfered with their night time sleep.