Have you ever laid down to take a nap, but then when you woke up you were still sleepy or even more drowsy than when you started?
On a day following a restless night’s sleep or a particularly tough day a work, a nap might be necessary so that you can make it through to the end of the day. But it’s only going to be effective if it’s the right length. If your nap is too short, you will still be tired. If your nap is too long, you may end up feeling drowsy and even more tired than before.
It’s a terrible feeling to wake up from a nap expecting to have more energy and to feel good, only to be left feeling exhausted or even confused. If you’ve ever experienced this, you know how frustrating it can be. If you want to find out the perfect nap length and avoid the brain fog you sometimes get after a nap, you’re in the right place to get answers.
Understanding Sleep Cycles
While sleeping, everyone goes through sleep cycles consisting of 5 stages. The first stage is very light sleep, and during this stage, it is very easy to wake someone up. As you move through the different stages of sleep, you gradually begin to sleep harder. It is difficult to wake someone up that is in the 4th stage of sleep. The 5th stage of sleep is when REM (Rapid Eye Movement) happens. This stage is when most dreams occur and when your body gets the most recovery. Each sleep cycle consists of all 5 stages, and lasts about 90 minutes. The longer you sleep, the more cycles you’ll go through.
Refreshed or Cranky?
The different stages of your sleep cycles are the reason you may feel great after a nap one day, and the next day you may wake up from your nap with brain fog and feeling like you haven’t napped at all. If you wake up in the early stages of a sleep cycle, you’ll wake up feeling alert and rejuvenated. If you wake up in one of the later stages, you’ll be confused, tired, and cranky.
So What Is the Perfect Length?
There are two answers for the perfect nap length. The first is to nap for 10 to 20 minutes, which will keep you from ever going into one of the later stages of sleep. This is known as a power nap, and it can be just what you need to make it through the rest of the day.
The other strategy is to time your nap so that you wake up between sleep cycles. You could try to nap for one sleep cycle, or about 90 minutes, or for a longer nap, you could try to sleep for two sleep cycles, or about 3 hours. When trying to time your nap, don’t forget to factor in the time it takes you to go to sleep. There’s some trial and error involved in this process, but once you discover your perfect sleep cycle length, you’ll never have to deal with nap induced grogginess again.
If you’re tired of waking up from your naps feeling worse than before you went to sleep, using these two napping strategies can keep you from ever feeling foggy after a nap again. Once you find out how long it takes you to go to sleep, and you get your naps timed perfectly, you’ll be able to nap without worrying about how you’ll feel afterward.