How Long Is Your Ideal Nap?

I’m so groggy that I can barely write this blog post.

I work from home, so every now and then I’ll take an afternoon nap when my brain and body call for it. Even though weekends are the same as weekdays to me in terms of my work schedule, I would say a nap is slightly more likely to happen on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon than other days.

My parents swear by 20-minute power naps, but for me, I just fall asleep and wake up naturally. Over the years I’ve found that this results in a 2-hour nap.

Yes, 2 hours! I’m guessing that’s quite long for what some people consider a nap. But the whole point of a nap is to recharge and refresh yourself, right? If I take 2 hours out of my standard 13-hour work day so the other 11 hours can be super productive, I think that’s a good use of time (as long as it doesn’t become a daily habit).

However, I’ve discovered that a partial nap is way worse than no nap at all. That’s what happened today. I took a 1-hour nap, and I’ve been almost entirely useless since then. I will be amazed if this blog post makes any sense. It’s going to be an early bedtime in the Stegmaier household tonight.

What’s your ideal nap length? What happens if your nap is cut short?


8 Responses to “How Long Is Your Ideal Nap?”

  1. Charles Dionne says:

    I’m not a frequent nap taker but when I do I usually wake up on my own after an hour or so feeling refreshed. Any longer than that and I usually wake up feeling more tired than I was before. However my wife would totally agree with you. She loves a good 2-hour nap on the weekend and will get grumpy if we interrupt her nap. 🙂

  2. Sara says:

    Minimum 2 hours – more like 3 – otherwise there’s no point. One caveat – if I’ve had just zero sleep from the night before or am super hungover, taking a nap during my lunch hour has been a lifesaver. That’s the only time when a short nap remotely feels refreshing.

  3. Jeff says:

    I’ve read studies that say naps should be in 45min increments (45, 90, 2’15”, etc). The body’s natural REM cycle takes about 45 minutes and that’s what’s suppose to give the most restful sleep. For me, though, 2 hours ish tends to be the norm when I just let my body do its thing.

  4. Stephen says:

    I find anything less than 3 hours results in me not really benefiting from it, so about 3-4 hours.

    (Incidentally – A broken sleep pattern rather than ‘all the sleep in a single concentrated chunk’ is apparently healthier. Blame industrialization for that stopping being the norm.)

  5. dmvp says:

    I can’t nap unless I’m sick. If I try to nap during the day, it significantly affects my ability to get to sleep that night. When my kids were little, I could nap, but it had to be in the recliner so I wouldn’t hit a full deep sleep, otherwise I was more tired and disoriented when I needed to attend to my children. If I start to nod off during the day, I make myself go for a walk to wake back up.

  6. rupertfuller says:

    I think if you are tired, a 2 hour nap is nice, it gives you a full sleep cycle (90 mins) plus a short rem sleep cycle (20 mins) so you can wake up refreshed, waking up after 60 mins interrupts the deep sleep portion of the longer nap which is why you feel so groggy. So I reckon either 20 mins refresh or 90-120 mins for restorative sleep are ideal.

  7. Joseph E. Pilkus III says:

    Jamey,

    Two hours is the sweet spot for me, as well. Typically, if alone, I’ll sleep two hours for a given nap. If I’m in Philly with my girlfriend, a cuddle can last a few hours. It’s wonderful curled up next to someone.

    Cheers,
    Joe

  8. This article perhaps tells more about effects of nap duration than you bargained for. But you’re all mental athletes, aren’t you?
    https://blog.bridgeathletic.com/the-physiology-of-naps-and-their-benefits-for-athletes
    “The Physiology of Naps and the Impact on Athletic Performance” by Shelley Harper

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