You may be a person that naps all of the time or someone who never takes a nap. There are mixed messages out there as to whether naps are good for you or bad. Research studies suggest naps can improve memory recall (e.g., Mednick et al., 2008). Companies are even putting nap rooms within their offices in an attempt to boost productivity in the workplace.
Timing and duration are extremely important when considering naps. It is essential you limit the length of your nap. There is something to be said about the short “power” nap, especially during the workweek. Longer naps actually lead to waking up sleepier. If you take a 2-hour nap in the afternoon you could possibly wake feeling more tired and groggy than before the nap. A 10 to 20 minute nap has been shown to be the most effective and beneficial to you.
When should you avoid a nap? You should not nap when you have insomnia or have had poor sleep a few nights in a row. Taking long naps decreases the chance that you will have a good night of sleep. You want to increase your “appetite” for sleep at night and not reduce it by napping. Also, you should avoid taking long naps later in the afternoon or evening as this can disrupt your ability to get to sleep at night.
Mednick, S. C., Cai, D. J., Kanady, J., Drummond, S. (2008). Comparing the benefits of caffeine, naps and placebo on verbal, motor and perceptual memory. Behavioural Brain Research, 193(1), 79-86.
Authored by: Lauren King, PsyD
Licensed Clinical Psycologist, CBT-I Provider