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The Science of Power Naps

When done right, napping can lower stress, lift your mood, and improve learning. A perfect power nap can be the energizing reboot not even your favorite coffee could pull off.

May 01, 2020

There’s a right way to nap, and we’ve got the details for you.

We’ve all been there: go down for a nap and wake up not even knowing what day it is. Napping, when overdone, can cause disorientation and further the sense of lethargy. But when done right, napping can lower stress, lift your mood, and improve learning. A perfect power nap can be the energizing reboot not even your favorite coffee could pull off. 

Benefits of Napping

Some people resort to napping when trying to catch up on z’s but a good nap is equally beneficial for well-rested people. This is because naps are said to increase productivity and alertness while boosting creativity and critical thinking abilities. Think of it as a quick recharge. Unlike a full night’s rest, a nap is not meant to achieve REM sleep. It’s only meant to get your mind rested and do away with fatigue. You can enter a restful stage of non-REM sleep in under half an hour while longer naps, say between an hour or two, can have just as many benefits as a full night of sleep

Planning the Perfect Nap 

Adding nap time to your routine doesn’t have to be as time consuming as it sounds. 20 minutes is all you need! The ultimate goal is to get to sleep as quickly as possible in order to maximize your restful state. So, napping in the mid-morning or right after lunch is best. Studies show that late afternoon naps are more likely to leave you feeling lazy or groggy afterward. Another way to schedule your nap is around the time your morning caffeine is starting to wear off. Caffeine can disrupt your quality of sleep, anyway, so opting for a nap instead of brewing another cup can have similar energizing effects.

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Optimizing Rest

Because napping is meant to be short but effective, you want to be sure that you make the most of it. A dark, quiet setting is the best way to do that. Finding darkness in the mid-morning or afternoon may be difficult, but using an eye mask will get the job done. Don’t let the time of day deter you from getting cozy, either! Staying comfortable and cool is important for getting a truly restful sleep. And if you’re worried about drifting away for too long, just set your alarm beforehand to sleep worry-free. 


Don’t Force It

Midday shuteye is only really effective when you’re feeling tired or low on energy. Forcing yourself to fall asleep can result in restlessness, frustration, and ultimately no sleep at all. When sleep doesn’t come easily, you can instead go for an afternoon walk, try a short exercise routine, or eat a nutritious snack–all of which will improve your nightly rest, get your energy back up and your creative juices flowing again.

Written by Cybele Ramirez

Cybele is a freelance writer covering all things culture and lifestyle. She’s also a content strategist in the tech startup space and mastering Media Studies at The New School. You can find this native New Yorker canoodling her two dogs, trying out a new recipe, or on IG @cybelina.

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