Not a napper? Think about it

Looking at the benefits of short bouts of sleep
Published March 1, 2021

Some people take regular naps, but for the rest of us it’s more of a rarity – maybe only when we’re sick, for example.

If you’re not a napper, it may be worth considering the potential benefits of taking short naps.

“Napping is not for everyone, but for some it may help improve mood and reduce fatigue when you are not getting an adequate amount of sleep,” says Monisha Bhanote, MD, FCAP, a triple board-certified physician and Yoga Medicine® teacher. “In some cases, napping may even improve performance, resulting in a quicker reaction time.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, other benefits of napping can include:

  • Relaxation
  • Increased alertness
  • Better memory

When to nap

The Mayo Clinic says you may want to consider napping if you’re experiencing new fatigue or unexpected sleepiness, if you’re about to experience sleep loss (like before starting an extra long work shift) or if you simply want to make napping part of your daily routine.

The key here is to keep it short and sweet. Mayo Clinic suggests napping for 10 to 20 minutes, because “the longer you nap, the more likely you are to feel groggy afterward.”

“Ideally, you want to keep naps limited to less than 30 minutes and in the first half of the day, otherwise naps can backfire and disrupt nighttime sleep,” Bhanote adds.

More research is needed to determine the effect of napping on nighttime sleep duration. People respond to naps differently, so you should do what feels right to you (and, as always, talk to your doctor). However, if you want to nap, we encourage you to pay attention to whether napping affects your ability to fall asleep at night. The goal is to get 7-9 hours of uninterrupted nighttime sleep. If your naps get in the way of that, you may want to avoid napping or shorten your naps. Additionally, if you are getting enough sleep during the night (7-9 hours), but feel tired during the day, we recommend you talk with your doctor about what could be disrupting your sleep.