The best time to nap

The best time to nap

The most natural time to take a nap, based on our circadian rhythms, is in the afternoon sometime between 2 and 4pm. 

The ideal time to snooze is when a nap would contain a good balance of slow wave and REM sleep. This balance typically occurs 6 to 8 hours after waking.

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Timing is everything

The best way to nap also depends on what kind of effects you’re looking for:

  • If you’re looking for a restorative nap, you should sleep later in the day when you have an increased amount of slow wave sleep.
  • If you’re looking for a nap that might aid your creativity and problem solving, you should sleep earlier in the day when you experience more REM.

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Try a caffeine nap

Since caffeine takes about 20 minutes to kick in, almost exactly the recommended nap length, down your latte just before lying down. 

The caffeine will act as a natural alarm, waking you up refreshed and ready to focus on the next activity. A 2003 Japanese study found that caffeine naps were more effective at combating daytime sleepiness than non-caffeine naps.

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Sleep inertia

It is the state of impaired cognition, grogginess, and disorientation commonly experienced on awakening from sleep.

This is why most experts suggest avoiding naps between 40 and 60 minutes in length. 

Sleep deprivation

Willpower, memory, judgement, and attention all suffer when you are sleep deprived.

You drop things, crave junk food sugar, overeat, gain weight. You’re more irritable, negative, emotionally reactive, forgetful and your ability to connect meaningfully to other people shuts down.

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