What's The Best Time Of Day To Nap? Here's When You Should Grab Some Shut-Eye
We all love a good nap, be it of the power or disco variety, but sometimes these beautiful periods of respite can leave us feeling more lethargic and logy than when we laid down. If we do not choose the best time of day to nap, they may even keep us awake during the night! Research has shown that naps come with a long list of benefits, including improving alertness, performance, lowering stress levels and additional health benefits ranging from reducing risk of diabetes, heart attack, and stroke. Clearly, taking the time to recharge does the body good.
In order to nap like a pro, the optimal amount of time you should doze is between 10 and 30 minutes, according to the Mayo Clinic. This amount of time in stage two sleep enhances alertness, mood, and concentration. Rest any longer, and you may feel a bit groggy going about the rest of your day. However, according to The Guardian, longer naps also have their own benefits. A 45 minute nap which will dip into REM sleep territory, boosts creative thinking — but you will definitely need a cup of joe afterwards to shake off the sleepies.
The Mayo Clinic explains that the best time for a nap is generally in the early afternoon. If you plop into bed and catch a few quick Zzzs between 2pm and 3pm, you are golden.
This time frame is the least likely to interfere with your nighttime sleep schedule. You already have a lower level of alertness during that time (that 2:30 p.m. feeling!) and you are possibly also suffering from a little after-lunch drowsiness. (Damn you delicious soup and half-sandwich deal! Why must you torture me thus!)
There are a few other factors that may additionally affect when it is the best time of day for your nap. Your personal internal clock and how much sleep you received the night before can change your daily nap needs. According to The Guardian , knowing your chronotype, the propensity for you to sleep at particular times based on your circadian rhythms and other factors, will affect your perfect siesta. If you are a lark, and love to wake up with the sun (or sometimes even beat the sun at its own dastardly game), you will start itching for a nap around 1 p.m. or 1:30 p.m. You are also probably going to sleep earlier, around 9 p.m. or 10 p.m., so an earlier nap will not interrupt your normal nightly patterns. If you are an owl, and burn the midnight oil time and again, your ideal nap will most likely fall at around 2:30 p.m. or 3 p.m.
Still not sure what time is best to visit Mr. Sandman? There are plenty of useful tools to help you pick the ideal moment for a daytime siesta. This infographic from The Boston Globe walks you through all your possible nap choices and benefits, and Lifehacker recommends Dr. Sara Mednick's interactive nap wheel for even more clarity. So grab that fuzzy blanket, set an alarm, and enjoy a healthful catnap. Sweet dreams!