The Absolute Best Time of Day to Sneak In a Nap

Is your daily nap actually doing you any favors?

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Being able to sneak in a 20-minute power nap on command—anytime, anywhere—is quite a feat, but just because you can fall asleep at any hour doesn’t mean you should. There’s good reason for you to give up your post-dinner nap.

Unless you work the nightshift or sleep until noon, your best time to nap is between 2:00 and 3:00 PM. Your blood sugar and energy levels start to wane after lunch, according to the National Sleep Foundation, which can lead to that unavoidable afternoon slump (and race to the coffee machine).

Of course, that varies depending on your wake-up time. A 2 PM nap is perfect if your morning starts at 7 AM, but that isn’t the case for everyone. Alarm dragging you out of bed at 5 or 6 AM? Then you might be ready for a nap closer to 1 or 1:30. If you get to “sleep in” until 8 AM, your ideal nap slot might start at 3 PM.

As a general rule, you want to squeeze in that shuteye in the middle of your day, so it doesn’t keep you up later when you’re trying to sleep. Just like how you shouldn’t pour yourself a cup of coffee at 6 PM, you shouldn’t take a nap then, either. (Here are more habits that might be keeping you up at night.)

Unfortunately, the 9-to-5 work day doesn’t always allow for us to hit that sweet spot, unless you’re lucky enough to work for a company with a nap room. If work drained all your energy and you’re needing a quick nap before dinner, just follow this general rule: Wake up from your nap at least three hours before bedtime.

Not a napping pro? Here are tips for taking the perfect nap.