October 23, 2018
Smart Napping Strategies
Ask the Experts

Smart Napping Strategies

by Berkeley Wellness  

Q: Is it okay to nap? What's the optimal length?

A: The urge to nap in the afternoon is nearly universal and is driven largely by our circadian rhythms. Most adults find that a short nap improves concentration and alertness.

A growing body of research indicates that napping helps improve memory and learning. Researchers from the University of Düsseldorf in Germany, for instance, reported that short naps—some as little as six minutes—significantly improved cognitive function and memory. Another study, published in Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, found that while even 10-minute naps help memory, a longer snooze helps more, since it includes some deep sleep. Think of a nap as a “reboot” for your brain, triggering a neurochemical process that helps you remember things and learn new tasks.

Here’s how to improve your “napability”:

  • Nap according to your own needs. Most people prefer short naps, since long naps may leave them feeling groggy and interfere with nighttime sleep.
  • Don’t nap close to your bedtime. Napping too late in the day can affect your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep at night.
  • Napping is not for everyone. Some people find it hard to nap or feel worse after they do—and if they have insomnia, napping may worsen it. If that’s you, find other ways to counter the mid-afternoon slump, such as a brisk walk or other form of exercise.