Stress Management Management Techniques The Overwhelming Benefits of Power Napping By Elizabeth Scott, PhD Elizabeth Scott, PhD Twitter Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing. Learn about our editorial process Updated on January 02, 2020 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Carly Snyder, MD Medically reviewed by Carly Snyder, MD Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Carly Snyder, MD is a reproductive and perinatal psychiatrist who combines traditional psychiatry with integrative medicine-based treatments. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Westend61/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images While small children typically take naps in the afternoon, adult naps generally tend to be less frequent; however, even in those who get enough sleep (but particularly in those who don’t), many people experience a natural increase in drowsiness in the afternoon, about 8 hours after waking. And research shows that you can make yourself more alert, reduce stress, and improve cognitive functioning with a nap. Mid-day sleep, or a ‘power nap’, means more patience, less stress, better reaction time, increased learning, more efficiency, and better health. Here’s what you need to know about the benefits of sleep and how a power nap can help you! How Much Sleep Do You Need? Most experts agree that the body needs 7-9 hours of sleep per day, depending on personal and genetic factors. Some research shows that 6 hours or less triples your risk of a car accident. The Effects of Missed Sleep Sleep is cumulative; if you lose sleep one day, you feel it the next. If you miss adequate sleep several days in a row, you build up a ‘sleep deficit’, which impairs the following: Reaction time Judgment Vision Information processing Short-term memory Performance Motivation Vigilance Patience Fatigued people may also experience more moodiness, aggressive behaviors, burnout, and more stress. The Benefits of a Power Nap Studies show that 20 minutes of sleep in the afternoon provides more rest than 20 minutes more sleep in the morning (though the last two hours of morning sleep have special benefits of their own). The body seems to be designed for this, as most people’s bodies naturally become more tired in the afternoon, about 8 hours after we wake up. How Long Should I Sleep? When you sleep you pass through different stages of sleep, known together as a sleep cycle. These stages include light sleep, deep sleep (which is believed to be the stage in which the body repairs itself), and rapid-eye-movement sleep, or REM sleep (during which the mind is repaired). Many experts advise to keep the nap between 15 and 30 minutes, as sleeping longer gets you into deeper stages of sleep, from which it’s more difficult to awaken. Also, longer naps can make it more difficult to fall asleep at night, especially if your sleep deficit is relatively small. However, research has shown that a 1-hour nap has many more restorative effects than a 30-minute nap, including a much greater improvement in cognitive functioning. The key to taking a longer nap is to get a sense of how long your sleep cycles are and try to awaken at the end of a sleep cycle. (It’s actually more the interruption of the sleep cycle that makes you groggy, rather than the deeper states of sleep.) As there are pros and cons to each length of sleep, you may want to let your schedule decide: if you only have 15 minutes to spare, take them! But if you could work in an hour nap, you may do well to complete a whole sleep cycle, even if it means less sleep at night. If you only have 5 minutes to spare, just close your eyes; even a brief rest has the benefit of reducing stress and helping you relax a little, which can give you more energy to complete the tasks of your day. But don't confuse a brief rest with microsleep. Tips For a More Effective Nap If you want to obtain more sleep and the health benefits that go with getting enough sleep, here are some tips for more effective napping and sleep at night: Avoid caffeine after 3 p.m. It’s a stimulant that can disrupt your sleep and stay in your system longer than you think; its half-life is four to six hours! If you don’t want to nap a long time, set an alarm. If you don’t have time for a power nap or don’t feel comfortable napping during the day, try meditation; it gives your body a rest and produces slower brain waves similar to sleep. 5 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Mantua J, Spencer RMC. Exploring the nap paradox: are mid-day sleep bouts a friend or foe? Sleep Med. 2017;37:88–97. doi:10.1016/j.sleep.2017.01.019 Ward KL, Hillman DR, James A, et al. Excessive daytime sleepiness increases the risk of motor vehicle crash in obstructive sleep apnea. J Clin Sleep Med. 2013;9(10):1013–1021. doi:10.5664/jcsm.3072 Costa A, Pereira T. The effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive performance. Eur J Public Health. 2019;29(Suppl. 1). doi:10.1093/eurpub/ckz034.096 Rasch B, Born J. About sleep's role in memory. Physiol Rev. 2013;93(2):681–766. doi:10.1152/physrev.00032.2012 Koutsimani P, Montgomery A, Georganta K. The relationship between burnout, depression, and anxiety: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Front Psychol. 2019;10:284. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00284 Additional Reading Mantua J, Spencer RMC. Exploring the nap paradox: are mid-day sleep bouts a friend or foe?. Sleep Med. 2017;37:88–97. doi:10.1016/j.sleep.2017.01.019 Ward KL, Hillman DR, James A, et al. Excessive daytime sleepiness increases the risk of motor vehicle crash in obstructive sleep apnea. J Clin Sleep Med. 2013;9(10):1013–1021. Published 2013 Oct 15. doi:10.5664/jcsm.3072 By Elizabeth Scott, PhD Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for Stress Management Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.