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There was a time when you’d try anything possible to avoid taking a nap, driving your parents crazy. Conversely, as adults, we try anything possible to actually take naps! They give us a boost of energy that allows us to continue our day with a refreshed mind and body — especially when taken between 1 pm and 4 pm. However, the duration and reasons for a nap make all the difference.
Science shows us the connection between different types of napping and their effects. And we at Bright Side want to help you find the best type of nap for your needs.
There are 3 types of naps in terms of trigger reasons.
1. Planned or preparatory napping
These are the naps you decide to take before actually feeling tired in order to save energy. If you need to be awake for long hours in the night, you can benefit from a nap during the daytime.
2. Emergency napping
When you feel the urge to close your eyes, it means you need an emergency nap. Your body is showing you the signs of exhaustion so that you can shut your eyes and rest. For example, when you feel it coming while driving, you should pull over in a safe place and nap for a while.
This type of nap is most common among children since it’s taken every day at a certain time. But adults can try it as well. However, once you become used to taking habitual naps, your body may require sleep at a designated time so you need to be prepared.
3. Habitual napping
The effects of a nap also vary depending on how much time you sleep.
1. An energizing pause: 10 minutes to 20 minutes of napping, also known as a power nap
When you need to stay alert for the day, a quick nap can give you the power to erase fatigue and increase your attention span for a couple of hours. According to a National Sleep Foundation study, a 20-minute nap helps to improve your performance and mood. A power nap never fails, so if you have the chance, snooze away!
2. Not the best sleep buddy: a 30-minute nap
A 30-minute nap is a great example of how much 10 minutes matter. While a nap that lasts up to 20 minutes is healthy, a 30-minute nap will cause grogginess also known as a “sleep hangover.” Your brain and body require deeper sleep after 20 minutes and waking up after a 30-minute nap will leave you feeling even more tired than before. If you feel like you’re on the cusp of an emergency nap and don’t have much time to rest, try taking a quick power nap instead.
Although there isn’t a consensus on a 60-minute nap’s physical effects in terms of sleep inertia (grogginess), it’s a proven fact that a 40-minute nap enhances short-term memory. A study has shown that 85% of people who were asked to memorize a set of cards and take a 40-minute nap afterward remembered the cards correctly while the success rate of the not-napping group was at 60%. Since you’re in a state of deep sleep during a 60-minute nap, you may end up waking up slightly groggy. However, considering people’s physical differences, you should try and find out which duration works best for you. When you want to remember details of the day like names, faces, or places, try taking a nap for 40 minutes to 60 minutes.
3. Closed eyes and an open brain: a 60-minute nap
4. Quality time for your mind: a 90-minute nap
As helpful as a night of 8 hours of sleep is, a 90-minute nap is recommended — even NASA says so! This is because we complete a full sleep cycle in 90 minutes which eliminates the possibility of sleep inertia that may happen after snoozing for 30 minutes or 60 minutes. It helps procedural and emotional memory and will induce creativity. You can benefit from a 90-minute nap if you’re trying to play a new instrument or are learning a new language or how to use a machine, for example. Practice before the nap and remember what you’ve done when you wake up!
Don’t forget that the need for a nap depends on the quality of your sleep, your physical endurance, and your emotional state. Not everyone is a dozing fan so you shouldn’t force yourself to sleep without feeling cues of being tired. Nothing can replace a good night’s sleep. That’s why sleep experts don’t recommend taking naps after 4 pm. It’s also advisable to choose a different place to take your naps other than your bed in order to trick your brain and keep your night snoozing as the primal one.
So, have you decided what type of nap you need? Don’t forget to share your resting tips with us in the comments!
Illustrated by Ekaterina Gapanovich for BrightSide.me