Science of Napping

man napping on bench

Have you ever closed your eyes for a quick nap, only to wake up feeling more tired than before? If so, you’re not alone. It all comes down to the science of napping.

Napping 101

There are biological influences at play when it comes to why you may still be tired after napping and how long you should nap to not feel groggy. Your circadian rhythms, or your internal clock, may be confused when you take a nap. Everyone also has a homeostatic sleep drive, meaning the build up of chemicals throughout the day signals that it is time to sleep. If one or both of these factors are off kilter, sleepiness can occur.

Another factor that leads to not feeling rested after a nap is the length of the nap. This has to do with your natural sleep cycles. According to a NASA study, the optimal power nap length is 10 to 26 minutes based on increases in mental performance. However, a 30-minute nap could leave you feeling groggy as sleep inertia starts to set in. If you’re going to take a longer nap, try to stretch it to 60 minutes. This is when you start to see the benefits of a deep sleep cycle. If you’re really going for a restorative nap, 90 minutes is when REM (rapid eye movement) sleep will begin.

Benefits of napping

As a nation, the United States is becoming more and more sleep deprived. And while napping can’t fully replace a full-night’s sleep, they certainly can help. Naps can increase alertness, enhance performance, and reduce mistakes and accidents. Napping also has psychological benefits as it can be perceived as a luxury or a mini-vacation. For those who work night shift, a quick nap could help combat sleepiness while working and ensure productivity is at an optimum level.

Napping on the job

While it may sound taboo to sleep at work, more and more companies are realizing that napping during the day may be a necessity for some employees. Google implemented nap pods almost 10 years ago, and many companies have followed suit. Here are just a few companies where you can nap on the job:

  • PricewaterhouseCoopers.
  • Ben & Jerry's.
  • Cisco.
  • Potato.
  • Zappos.
  • Nike.
  • Uber.
  • Thrive Global.
  • White & Case.

 Are you allowed to nap at your place of work? If so, we’d love to hear about it.




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