Insufficient sleep can affect your academics and health, including your decision-making, memory, and immune function. Although a nap can’t replace a good night’s sleep, one that’s well-timed can improve your mood and performance. Studies have shown an increase in alertness directly following a nap, which may last the day.
If you nap for longer than 20-30 minutes you can enter the REM (rapid eye movement) phase of sleep, and disrupting a REM cycle can lead to a more tired, zombie-like feeling.
Also, if you already have sleep problems, like difficulty staying asleep due to stress or a diagnosed sleep disorder, naps can contribute to inconsistent sleep habits.
- Nap between 1:00-4:00 p.m. to avoid interfering with nighttime sleep.
- Keep your nap to 20-30 minutes.
- Limit disruptions from external stimuli by using earplugs or an eye mask.
- Assess your sleep habits to decrease the need for a routine nap.
Did You Know?
The National Sleep Foundation has identified three different categories of naps:
Planned napping (also known as preparatory napping): Taking a nap preemptively, prior to feeling sleepy. This technique is best if you know you’ll be up late.
Emergency napping: When extreme tiredness sneaks up, this type of nap can be used to prevent risks, such as driving while drowsy.
Habitual napping: Taking a nap at the same time each day, such as for young children or the siesta in some cultures.