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This Is the Perfect Nap Length, According to Science

There’s a reason you should keep your power naps to about 20 minutes long.

If you’re like most Americans, you’re probably chronically sleep deprived, even if you don’t feel like you’re in a real-life version of The Walking Dead. That’s partly because the more you get used to skimping on sleep, the less your chronically foggy brain is able to recognize symptoms of exhaustion and fatigue.

One of the best ways to fight sleep deprivation, of course, is getting the right amount of sleep every night. For adults, that means sleeping around seven to nine hours every single night (not just weekends!). Consistently clocking those hours at night reduces drowsiness the next day, so you’ll be primed to drive in rush hour, make a killer sales pitch, and keep up with your tireless three-year-old, sans that fourth cup of coffee. 

However, life happens, and sometimes getting that ideal amount of nightly sleep is just not remotely possible. On those days, consider embracing the beauty of the power nap. Far from a time suck in the middle of your workday or hectic weekend, a quickie nap is actually a great investment of your time since you’ll likely be more effective after recharging.

The trick to taking a perfect nap is mastering the length. If you snooze for too long, you might wake up feeling even more tired and foggy. Studies have found the most effective nap lasts only 20 minutes. A 20-minute power nap is all you need to mentally and physically recharge for the rest of the day. It eliminates the feeling of post-nap grogginess when you wake up from a deep sleep.

If you have been attempting to sleep for seven to nine hours a night but are not achieving quality sleep and often feel tired throughout the day, you may want to consider your sleeping position, your mattress, and your sleep environment. You may also want to talk to your doctor about possible sleep disorders like sleep apnea or insomnia.

Happy napping!

Sarah Bernier Olin

This video features Sarah Bernier Olin.

Duration: 1:27. Last Updated On: Nov. 8, 2017, 6:14 p.m.
Reviewed by: Dr. Preeti Parikh, . Review date: May 21, 2014
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