Your Guide to Napping: How to Nap to Get The Biggest Benefit

If you're one of the 34% of Americans who take a midday snooze (1), keep your eyes open for a few more minutes to learn all about the wonderful world of napping (or see 12 ways to conquer that dreaded midday slump). From the benefits and downsides, varieties, ideal environments for, and history of naps, we'll explore everything you need to know about daytime dozing. Plus, we'll show you how to fall asleep faster and wake up sharper.

Don't Sleep Deprive Yourself

Not only is sleep deprivation in America shaving years off of our lives, but it's also costing us billions of dollars annually. A study published in Rand Health Quarterly (2) found that an individual who sleeps less than six hours per night has a 13 percent higher mortality risk than an individual who sleeps between seven and nine hours per night. To a lesser extent, an individual who sleeps between six and seven hours per night has a 7 percent higher mortality risk.

On the economic side, the United States loses between $280 billion and $411 billion per year due to insufficient sleep. For this reason, companies such as Google, Huffington Post, Ben & Jerry's, Nike, Uber, and NASA are integrating naps into their corporate culture (3).

Smart Napping

Done properly, napping can come with a myriad of benefits. However, it's important to note that there is generally no replacement for a good night's sleep. Moreover, if you nap for too long, too late, or in the wrong environment, the drawbacks outweigh the perks.

If you're looking to make the most of your doze, be sure to:

  • Keep your naps short, between 10-30 minutes
  • Nap early, between 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM is best
  • Find a quiet, distraction-free environment
  • Use sleep sounds to fall asleep faster
  • Use an eye mask to block light

***Pro Tip: Try SleepPhones® for a more restful nap. The luxuriously soft headband works as an eye mask to block light, and the flat speakers allow for comfortable listening while resting.

If you're looking for even more rejuvenation, check out the AcousticSheep Harmony Project™. The Harmony Project is a sleep-induction app that uses artificial intelligence to generate, recommend, and deliver the most efficient deep sleep-inducing music rhythms and sound patterns.

Benefits of Napping

Napping isn't just for children and older adults; it's an effective strategy for anyone who needs a midday pick-me-up. Done properly, getting 15-25 minutes of shuteye can (45):

  • Boost mood/lower stress
  • Enhance creative thinking
  • Improve alertness
  • Improve cognitive performance
  • Improve memory
  • Improve motor performance
  • Improved reaction time
  • Increase relaxation
  • Reduce caffeine intake
  • Reduce fatigue

Negative Effects of Napping

Done improperly, napping can come with a few unwanted side effects. For instance, if you're already sleep-deprived or are taking your naps too late in the day, naps may cause (6):

  • Drowsiness
  • Grogginess
  • Disorientation
  • Poor nighttime sleep quality

If you're feeling sluggish after a nap, it's most likely a sign of sleep inertia. Sleep inertia is a physiological state that occurs in the transition between sleep and wakefulness and is typically characterized by feelings of drowsiness, disorientation, and poor sensory-motor performance. It's also a sign that your naps are too long.

Types of Naps

There's a nap for almost any situation. Some people have routine, preventative naps that they settle into before they are tired, while others find they have no choice but to nap in order to let their minds and bodies rest.

Whatever the reason, some shut-eye can give you the boost you need to finish the rest of your day with precision and alertness. From duration to location, there are a variety of naps including:

Power Nap

Nicknamed the CEO nap, this short shut-eye period of 10-20 minutes usually occurs midday. Research shows that napping for 10 minutes can be refreshing enough without causing sleep inertia. You don't have to be a CEO to take advantage of the rest, but you could make a strong case to your boss to incorporate workplace naps.

Coffee Power Nap

Combine the power of caffeine with shut-eye for a quick energy boost. Caffeine binds to adenosine receptors, which is a chemical that causes drowsiness. By napping, you increase the number of receptors available for caffeine to bond to, reducing the presence of adenosine.

Special Occasion Nap

Get ready for a night out on the town with a 90-minute snooze. You'll build up an energy reserve to get you through the night. Make sure to wake up the next morning at your usual time to quickly get back into your normal sleep schedule.

Shift Work Nap

Research has shown that a 10-minute nap can refresh nighttime shift employees better than a 20-minute nap (7). Snoozing for 10 minutes reduces sleep inertia and improves short-term performance.

Sports Nap

Microsleep can help you prepare for an intense, physical performance. A recent study found that a 45-minute afternoon nap improved athletic performance for sprinters (8). Additionally, a nap after a grueling workout can help your body recover more quickly.

New Parent Nap

Get some shut-eye while your newborn is sleeping. It's vital to your physical and mental health. A rest period of any sort during the beginning stages of parenthood will help you prepare for nighttime care. Put down your phone or laptop and get some much-deserved rest before your child wakes up. 

Teen Nap

A nap for growing, hormonal adolescents can do wonders. Most young adults need nine hours of sleep, but their school schedule and swinging sleep patterns impact the number of hours they actually get. A 20-minute nap after school or a long, 90-minute snooze on the weekend can help your teen be more alert and refreshed. College students can also benefit from naps to keep up with a demanding academic schedule and late-night study sessions.

Traveler's Nap

Jetlag begone! A quick doze can help you adapt to a new time zone and give you enough energy to make it through a demanding travel schedule.

Invest in Better Sleep

Whether you're interested in taking a more restful nap or you're looking for a better night's sleep, SleepPhones® headphones can help. SleepPhones® were designed to sit over the ear, making them comfortable even for side sleepers. You know they work when more than 9 out of 10 customers would recommend them to their friends and family.

Check out our most popular sleep headphones here.
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