Nailing Your Best Nap Length: 4 Tips for Perfect Rest

May 6, 2022 | Casper Editorial Team
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If you’re struggling to keep your eyes open throughout the day, it might be a sign you need a quick afternoon shut-eye. After all, almost one-third of Americans use naps to deal with their sleepiness.

Once a childhood staple, many adults struggle to nap in a way that works for them.

It takes some trial and error to figure out the best nap length, type, and strategy for your needs. If you’re ready to give napping your best shot, keep reading for our top tips to optimize your nap time.

How Long Should a Nap Be?

Naps should generally last 20–90 minutes. But the optimal nap length varies based on your age, lifestyle, and health needs. For example, newborns need 14–17 hours of sleep, while seniors only need seven to eight hours. We generally need less sleep as we get older, but you can nap at any age.

You want to nap long enough that you’re actually getting a bit of sleep without risking sleep inertia, which is that groggy feeling you get when you wake up from a long nap. 

Ideal nap lengths by type

7 Types of Naps

There are a couple different types of naps you can try based on your sleep goals and needs. Let’s go over the most common nap types to see which you should try next. 

Power Nap —  A nap for a boost of energy when you’re short on time.

  • Time: 10–20 Minutes
  • Best for:  People who have a lot on their to-do list.

Recovery Nap — A nap you take to make up for lost sleep.

  • Time: 90 minutes
  • Best for: People who stayed up late finishing their latest TV binge.

Prophylactic Nap — A nap to prepare for an all-nighter or sleepless night.

  • Time: 90 minutes
  • Best for: People who know their sleep will be interrupted that night.

Appetitive Nap — A nap taken for no reason other than the joy of napping.

  • Time: 10–90 Minutes
  • Best for: People who don’t need to catch up on sleep but enjoy a good nap.

Fulfillment Nap — A nap taken by a child who needs more sleep than an adult.

  • Time: 30+ Minutes
  • Best for: Children who didn’t meet their sleep needs the night before.

Caffeine Nap — A nap timed after having caffeine so you wake up as it kicks in.

  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Best for: People who need a double-strength energy boost.

Essential Nap — A nap taken when someone is sick as a result of their illness.

  • Time: 10–90 Minutes
  • Best for: People who are feeling under the weather.
Nap Type Length What It’s For
Power Nap 10–20 Minutes Get A Boost Of Energy
Recovery Nap 90 Minutes Make Up For Lost Sleep
Prophylactic Nap 90 Minutes Prepare For A Sleepless Night
Appetitive Nap Any Length Nap For The Sake Of Enjoyment
Fulfillment Nap 30+ Minutes Fulfill A Child’s Need For More Sleep
Caffeine Nap 20 Minutes Gain Double The Energy
Essential Nap Any Length Feel Better When Sick

Benefits of Napping

Taking a nap comes with many benefits to your emotional and physical wellbeing. When you’re getting in your beauty sleep, you can reap benefits like:

  • Can help you relax —  Much like meditation, a nap can give you some time to unplug and recharge.
  • Can boost your mood —  20-minute naps have shown promise in improving mood.
  • May improve your memory — Research suggests naps are a more effective way to boost your memory compared to other types of breaks.

Negative Effects of Napping

For some people, naps can further exacerbate nighttime sleep issues. If you have trouble falling asleep, napping can be tempting. But there are several reasons why it may not be the best choice:

  • Can still feel tired directly following a nap — Sleep inertia can make you feel even more tired for 30+ minutes following a nap.
  • May worsen issues falling asleep at night — Sleep hygiene refers to habits that help you sleep better at night. Unfortunately, naps aren’t considered a good sleep hygiene habit and may make you feel restless at night.
  • Can keep you from addressing nighttime sleep problems — If you nap or oversleep often, it could be indicative of insomnia or other health issues. While a nap can help you feel rested, it could distract you from getting to the root of why you’re feeling tired.
Pros of napping are it can help you relax, boost your mood, reduce fatigue, and may improve memory. Cons are you may feel tired directly after napping, it may distract from more serious health or sleep issues, and it can take longer to fall asleep at night.

6 Simple Tips for Better Naps

To improve your nap success, try these research-backed tips to nap better and wake up refreshed.

Tips for better naps are to nap with a purpose, use your alarm, nap early in the day, create a nap routine, nap sparingly, and plan a post-nap activity.

1. Nap With a Purpose

Naps can’t replace sleep, but many of us are guilty of trying to use them that way. If your nap expectations are too high, you’re going to be let down by your shut-eye. 

Set an intention before you nap. Do you want to feel extra energized for a task you’ve been procrastinating? Do you need a pre-dinner boost? Or maybe you just want to have a moment to yourself?

If you nap with intent, you’re more likely to get what you need from your midday snooze. For some intention guidance, try Casper’s guided meditation while you’re drifting off.

2. Use Your Alarm

If you nap without an alarm, you risk waking up later than you expected — landing right in that danger zone where you wake up extra groggy. 

When you’ve decided what type of nap you’re going to take and how long it will be, set an alarm to keep yourself accountable. It’s extra important to stop hitting snooze on your nap alarm. 

If you find you’re a serial snoozer, consider shortening your naps a bit to limit that groggy, post-nap feeling.

3. Nap Early in the Day

Naps are different from regular nighttime sleep, so you want to make sure you’re not taking your naps too close to bedtime. If you’re napping right before bed, you could be negatively impacting your ability to fall asleep at night.

Of course, it’s not helpful to take a nap right after you wake up either, but napping in the afternoon with some solid time before bed can help you hit that nap sweet spot.

4. Create a Nap Routine

The key to an efficient nap is being able to fall asleep fast, so make sure you’re creating the best environment for sleep to maximize your nap efficiency.

Use accessories like a sleep mask and weighted blanket to help mimic your bedtime routine, so you know it’s time to relax and snooze — even if it’s the afternoon.

5. Nap Sparingly

While naps are a great tool for relaxation and catching up on some zzz’s, they shouldn’t be a daily occurrence. If you need to nap daily to function, this could be indicative of underlying health issues

When possible, save naps for when you really need them and reach out to your doctor for guidance if you’re worried about napping too much.

6. Plan a Post-Nap Activity

Exciting plans are a great motivator for getting out of bed after a nap. It’s tempting to stay in your loungewear all day after a nap, but your life awaits. 

If you still want to nap but don’t have any evening plans to tempt you out of bed, try a wake up meditation to combat sleep inertia.

FAQs

How long should a nap be?

Naps should generally last 20–90 minutes. Shorter naps are generally favored, but longer naps can be beneficial if you’re missing out on sleep during the night or if you’re feeling sick.

How long is a power nap?

A power nap should last 10–20 minutes so you can wake up refreshed without interrupting your sleep cycles.

When should I nap?

It’s better to take a nap earlier in the day because it’s less likely to negatively impact your sleep at night.

Why am I tired after I nap?

You might be more tired after naps longer than 30 minutes because you’re waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle. The phenomenon of waking up tired post-nap is called sleep inertia, and while it’s more common in longer naps, it can happen with any nap length.
To combat sleep inertia, try to get up and walk around right when you wake up from a nap. The drowsy feeling should dissipate within a couple minutes.

Nap Better with Casper

Whether you’re a serial snoozer that has your best nap length down pat or you’re a napping newbie, we have the essentials you need to sleep better. Follow our tips and get your head in the clouds with our Silk Sleep Mask and snuggle in for your best nap yet.