Taking a daytime nap is one of the easiest ways to get a quick energy boost and improve your mood. We’ve all felt the benefits of daytime naps at some point in our lives, but most of us have also experienced the flipside of it – we might’ve extended the duration of the nap because we didn’t feel like getting up, only for the nap to end up affecting our sleeping schedule at night and causing havoc. If you’ve ever asked yourself, “How long of a nap should I take to be able to still sleep at night?”, then this is the right article for you.
We will quickly go over the benefits and drawbacks of daytime napping before exploring in detail the ideal duration and time of day for a daytime nap. At the end of our article, we have included some tips on how to nap productively during the day without worrying about it negatively impacting your sleeping schedule.
Benefits of Napping
Before we delve into the ideal length of a nap and how to structure your day in order to disallow for your naps to affect your sleep, let’s look over the most important benefits you can get from taking regular naps in the hopes of inspiring you to incorporate naps in a healthy way in your day to day life.
The primary role of a nap is to improve our energy levels, so it goes without saying that taking a nap results in higher energy levels and can help get us through the days when we haven’t gotten enough sleep at night. Consequently, having more energy can improve other aspects of our lives, such as having better workouts and increased job performance at work. If you ever feel like you lack energy, don’t hesitate to take a power nap at a certain point during the day and watch it have a snowball effect on other facets of your life.
Another benefit of napping that won’t come as a surprise is having an improved mood. We’re not our best selves when we’re tired – we’re moody, irritable, and unproductive, all of which can be alleviated with a quick power nap. If you feel like your mood is suffering due to a poor night of sleep, don’t hesitate to opt for a nap.
Better Performance at Work and School
One of the ways napping has the potential to improve our performance at school and work is by improving our focus and our learning skills, or our ability to retain information. If your job allows for it, you can plan short naps in your daily work schedule, like during your lunch break, to boost your focus and problem-solving skills. If you’re in school, you can revise your material for an exam right after taking a nap, as this is when your mind is most refreshed, ready to retain information.
Drawbacks of Napping
Napping also comes with the risk of encountering a couple of mild side effects that are worth mentioning.
One of the most common side effects of taking sporadic naps is feeling moody and groggy afterward. These unpleasant feelings result from naps that are longer in duration, where we have entered the deep, REM part of sleep. If we’re suddenly woken up during this stage of sleep, we’re more likely to feel a lack of energy and instability in our mood, which is why it’s important to keep our naps on the shorter side.
Another obvious drawback of napping is an inability to fall asleep at night, which affects our sleeping patterns and might cause us to get less sleep than it’s recommended. This is especially risky for people who are already suffering from insomnia or have difficulty falling asleep at night, so we recommend being careful when it comes to planning daytime naps.
How Does Napping During the Day Affect Sleep?
We’ve all felt the impact of naps on our regular sleeping schedule. While some naps have helped preserve our energy throughout the day without causing havoc on that night’s sleep, other naps have completely changed our sleeping patterns and made us wish that we never took the nap in the first place. So, let’s explain how napping impacts our daily sleeping schedule and how it affects our sleep cycles.
Whether a nap has the potential to disturb your sleeping pattern depends a lot on the time of day you decide to nap. For instance, it’s known that naps that occur in the later part of the day have the potential to get us into REM sleep, which means that the quality of the nap and the depth of our sleep will be greater. However, that comes with its own set of consequences, since naps that occur at the later part of the day also have a higher risk of inhibiting our ability to fall asleep at night.
All in all, the longer period of time there is between our nap and our regular night-time sleep, the more likely we are to get tired all over again and fall asleep without having any issues.
How Long Should an Ideal Nap Last?
If we want to avoid naps from having an impact on our sleep at night, we should take into account the duration of our naps. Apart from the time of day, the duration of the nap has a great impact on how tired we feel at night when it’s time to fall asleep.
When it comes to restorative naps that are supposed to increase our overall energy levels and give our brains a boost, the best length is anywhere from 20 minutes to 90 minutes. Also called power naps, shorter naps that last up to half an hour, allowing us to feel instantly more energized and refreshed without compromising our ability to follow our regular sleeping schedule. You’re almost guaranteed not to have any difficulty falling asleep if you stick to this shorter time frame.
On the other hand, if you feel like you haven’t gotten a lot of sleep the previous night and you crave a longer nap, you can opt for one that’s up to 90 minutes long. This particular nap duration allows you to go through all the stages of sleep, including the REM stage, so you don’t risk being woken up while you’re in the stage of deep sleep. By doing so, you’ll avoid that feeling of drowsiness while enjoying some of the perks that come with naps that are longer in duration, such as increased productivity and creativity.
What Time of Day is Best for Napping?
Since we’ve established how long naps should be if we don’t want them to interfere with our sleep-wake schedule, it’s time to explore what’s the best time of day to nap.
Your ideal time of day for napping greatly depends on the time you go to bed and wake up, as well as your work schedule. If you’re someone who gets up early for work, your ideal time to have a nap would be around lunchtime, no later than 2 pm. If you wake up later than most people, then you might get away with taking a power nap right after lunch, during the later half of the day.
If you have an unconventional sleeping schedule or you work a lot of late shifts, then napping later in the day shouldn’t cause a disturbance to your usual sleeping schedule. One rule of thumb to follow is – the closer your nap is to your bedtime (especially if it’s longer in duration), the more likely it will cause problems for you at night and leave you tossing and turning, unable to fall asleep. If you stick to power naps, the risk of that occurring is greatly reduced.
Tips on Taking Naps if You Don’t Want to Ruin Your Sleeping Schedule
Taking quality power naps can significantly boost your mood, cognitive performance, and energy levels when done right. Here are some of our best tips on how to take naps without worrying about ruining your sleeping schedule.
Pay Attention to Your Surroundings
Most of us take a few minutes from our night-time routine to set the mood for sleeping, whether that’s turning off the lights, reducing any noise, or putting on an eye mask. If you want your nap to be as productive as possible, make sure you’re being careful about your surroundings since they might interrupt your nap. If you decide to take a longer nap and something in your surrounding wakes you up, it might occur at the deep phase of sleeping, leaving you feeling tired and groggy.
Try Caffeine-Powered Naps
If you don’t have much time to dedicate to napping and need a quick energy boost, try caffeine-powered naps. Drink a caffeinated beverage right before you plan on taking a nap, set your alarm to no later than 20 minutes from then, and watch the combination of the two give you a quick and effective energy boost. The caffeine will usually take around 20 minutes to work, so you will really feel the effect of it once you wake up from your nap. Don’t forget to hydrate in the process, since both caffeine and sleeping can be quite dehydrating.
Don’t Forget to Set an Alarm
One of the pitfalls of napping is forgetting to set an alarm clock and sleeping for longer than you intended. To avoid over napping, make sure you set an alarm clock before you nap, especially if you want to take a short nap. This is the easiest way to ensure that your nap is the length you intended. Don’t forget to take into account the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep when setting your alarm.
Find the Right Place to Nap
You won’t always have the comfort of your bed at your disposal for napping, so it’s important to find a way to cosy up in environments that are slightly more unconventional, such as your workplace. If you’re allowed to, you can bring your weighted blanket or a comfortable travel pillow that will add to your comfort if you’re forced to take a nap in your car or on your office sofa.
How Long Should a Nap be to Replace Sleep?
Nothing can replace good quality, uninterrupted sleep at night that lasts from seven to nine hours. With that said, naps are a great way to get a quick energy boost and shouldn’t be longer than 90 minutes.
Will a 2-hour Nap Affect My Sleep?
The answer depends on a couple of different factors, such as your energy levels and the timing of the nap. To avoid the risk of it affecting your sleep, nap earlier in the day.
How Long Should a Power Nap Last?
Power naps can last anywhere from 10 minutes to half an hour.
Daytime napping comes with its own risks, but, when done properly, it’s an amazing way to get more energised, have a boost in cognitive performance, and increase your mood.
One of the best ways you can ensure that your nap doesn’t interfere with your sleep is by scheduling it earlier in the day. The general rule of thumb is – the longer you wait for a nap, the more likely it will mess up your sleep-wake cycle. Additionally, the duration of the nap matters – the ideal duration of a nap to avoid the risk of not being able to fall asleep is between 20 and 90 minutes.