Are Naps Good for You?

Medically reviewed by
 Dr. Nayantara Santhi

Dr. Nayantara Santhi

Dr. Nayantara Santhi holds an academic position at Northumbria University. After completing her Ph.D. at Northeastern University (Boston, MA), she joined the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School as a post-doctoral fellow to research how sleep and circadian rhythmicity influence our cognitive functioning.

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Last Updated On December 4th, 2023
Are Naps Good for You?

A nap is a brief period of sleep that is often taken throughout the day. One-third of all adults in the United States take daytime naps. Many healthy adults swear by the midday nap as an efficient method to relax and rejuvenate. In contrast, others find them ineffective and disturbing their sleep routine.

However, not all naps are the same, and various circumstances influence how beneficial naps might be. You may learn to take successful naps that support your body’s internal clock and maintain your energy level throughout the day by knowing the importance of napping without having trouble falling asleep at night.

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“It is said that a nap is as good as a night of sleep for brain function,” says Dr. Nayantara Santhi. “Naps later in the day have mostly NREM stages, rapid eye movement (REM) is more likely in morning naps, and both can occur in post-prandial naps. Short naps have lighter sleep (NREM1, NREM2), while long naps (30 min or longer) have more deep sleep (NREM3) but produce sleep inertia upon awakening.”

Why Are Naps Good for Children?

Sleep is essential for a child’s development, growth, and general health. Total sleep time for newborns and young children includes nighttime and daytime napping.

The amount of sleep Verified Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The United States’ health protection agency that defends against dangers to health and safety. View source required by children varies according to age, from babies to teens. While each child is unique, experts recommend:

  • 14-17 hours for infants (0-3 months). Infants sleep on and off all day, waking up every couple hours to feed.
  • 12-16 hours for infants (4-12 months). Sleep patterns begin to solidify at about four months of age. Most newborns sleep longer at night and take 2-3 naps during the day.
  • 11-14 hours for toddlers (ages 1-2 years). Young toddlers may still take two naps daily, but by 18 months, most have reduced to one daily rest.
  • Preschool (ages 3-5): 10-13 hours. During these years, many preschoolers obtain adequate sleep at night and forego their afternoon nap.
  • 9-12 hours for students aged 6 to 12. Children above the age of six should sleep through the night. Set a bedtime for your older child that provides the required amount of sleep.

How Do I Know If My Child Needs a Nap?

Children who do not get enough sleep at night may need to nap. Most parents underestimate the amount of sleep their children require, so keep suggested sleep hours in mind when scheduling naps and bedtimes. Sleepy children may rub their eyes, appear tired, act out, or have other behavioral issues.

Consider the following:

  • Is my youngster drowsy and feeling tired during the day?
  • Is my child irritable, fussy, or unhappy, particularly later in the day?
  • Is getting my youngster out of bed in the morning a struggle?
  • Is my child hyperactive, inattentive, or aggressive?
  • Is my youngster having difficulty focusing or following directions?

If you responded yes to any of these questions, you should consider adjusting your child’s bedtime or nap routine. Especially if you have an autistic child struggling to sleep.

How Can I Assist My Child in Napping?

Setting up and sticking to a consistent nap regimen early on might be the key. Soft music, lighting, and a quiet narrative can help children sleep.

Put newborns to sleep when they are drowsy but not asleep. This teaches children to fall asleep independently, which becomes increasingly crucial as they age.

Set regular naptimes for toddlers and preschoolers that are not too close to nighttime. Maintaining a naptime regimen might be difficult. Many people still like their naps, while others don’t want to miss anything and struggle to fall asleep. Consider putting your child to bed earlier if they no longer take naps during the day.

What if My Child Refuses to Fall Asleep?

Don’t make naptime a struggle if you can’t make your child sleep. Instead, set aside some quiet time if your youngster would not sleep.

Allow your youngster to read books or play quietly in their room during quiet time. Parents are sometimes astounded by how fast quiet time may turn into sleep. Even if the children do not sleep, they receive much-needed rest.

Finding a sleep schedule that works might take time. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your child’s sleep, consult with their doctor.

Are Naps Good for Adults?

Many benefits of napping children are also apparent in young and older adults. Sleeping in early adulthood can boost cognitive function, make you feel alert and healthy, and give you better memory and mood management while alleviating drowsiness. Naps can be a necessity for certain professions, such as sleep deprived nurses.

Midday power naps, on the other hand, aren’t for everyone. Working and other responsibilities might make napping impossible regardless of nap length. Furthermore, some people have difficulty falling asleep throughout the day or while not at home.

Specific negative health impacts have been linked to longer naps in older persons (more than an hour in duration). Research shows long naps have been associated with an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and depression. This might be because individuals taking extended midday naps have poor sleep quality. More study is needed to explore the links between napping and these poor consequences in the elderly.

Can sudden napping mean health issues? However, consult your doctor if you have an increased need for naps and there is no evident source of new exhaustion in your life. You may be taking medicine, have sleep disorders, or have another medical issue interfering with your evening sleep.

Advantages of Napping for Adults

For healthy individuals, napping has several health advantages over non-nappers, including:

  • Relaxation
  • Fatigue reduction
  • Increased vigilance
  • Improved performance, including faster response time and greater memory

Some workplaces may even have a place set up if you need to sleep at work by grabbing a quick nap.

However, while everyone may obtain certain advantages from napping, there is some evidence that naps only increase particular types of learning when taken regularly. This includes the capacity to distinguish between similar items such as photos or textures.

Improved Memory and Cognition

According to the National Academy of Science, sleep is crucial in relational memory storage. As much as a full night’s sleep, a nap might assist you in recalling what you learned earlier in the day. Napping also benefits you by helping you remember motor abilities, sensory perception, and language.

Not only might sleeping help you recall what you’ve just learned, but it may also help your brain make connections between what you learn. In one study in the Journal of Sleep Medicine, those who napped found it easier to recall information obtained earlier in the day.

When you repeat a task throughout the day, your performance suffers as the day progresses. According to research, taking a nap might help you trouble being consistent.

Improved Mood

If you’re feeling sad, consider taking a nap to help you feel better. Napping or simply relaxing for an hour without falling asleep might improve your mood. According to experts, whether you fall asleep or not, the relaxation that comes with lying down and relaxing is a mood enhancer.

Increased Vigilance

You are not alone if you begin to feel drowsy shortly after lunch. The battle after lunch is genuine. A 20-minute rest will help you fight heavy eyes.

Especially if you know you won’t be getting much sleep for a night or two (due to travel or other trouble, for example), taking a nap ahead of time is preferable to relying on coffee. The longer you sleep, the better. If you must consume caffeine, drinking modest quantities over time is preferable to one huge cup of coffee.

Regular napping like this can be one way to combat shift work sleep disorder.

Relieve Stress

If you’re stressed out, sleep might help you relax and boost your immune system. Experts feel that a 30-minute snooze will suffice.

Beneficial for the Heart

Even a quick nap can boost your ticker. According to one study, persons who rested for 45 to 60 minutes after experiencing mental stress had lower blood pressure. As a result, naps can help your body recuperate from stressful conditions.

Increased Creativity

Have you ever woken up with a brilliant idea? REM sleep, which begins 70 to 90 minutes after falling asleep, stimulates areas of your brain related to images and dreams. A nap that includes REM sleep might help you mix thoughts in novel ways to generate answers.

Better Nighttime Sleep

Although it may seem counterintuitive or a nap paradox, having a nap during the day might help older folks sleep better at night. A 30-minute nap between 1 and 3 p.m., paired with moderate activity, such as a stroll and stretching in the evening, has been shown to enhance nocturnal sleep. Mental and physical health can both improve.

Disadvantages of Napping for Adults

Not everyone enjoys napping. Some people cannot sleep during the day or have difficulty sleeping in locations other than their beds, as napping occasionally necessitates.

Napping can potentially have negative consequences, including:

Sleep Inertia

After waking up from a nap, you may feel sluggish and disoriented. This is called sleep inertia, the grogginess you feel after waking up, whether it’s a nap or a full night of sleep. The longer you sleep, the more likely you will have that sensation. The worse it is, the longer it will take you to get up and return to work, even for healthy adults.

Sleep Issues at Night

Most people’s evening sleep quality is unaffected by shorter naps. However, a longer nap time may exacerbate your condition if you have insomnia or poor sleep quality at night. Prolonged or frequent naps may disrupt better sleep at night.

Varieties of Naps

Naps are classified based on the purpose they fulfill. One step in making napping work for you is considering what you hope to achieve, followed by what the best nap length for you is.

Recovery Nap

Sleep loss might leave you exhausted the next day. If you stay up late or have disrupted sleep one night, you may feel the need to take a recovery nap the next day to compensate for lost sleep. However, it should be noted that there is little validity to the ‘sleep deficit,’ and there is little evidence that you can ‘make up sleep’ if you feel you have not had enough sleep.

Prophylactic Nap

A prophylactic nap is taken to prepare for sleep deprivation. Night shift employees, for example, may arrange naps before and throughout their shifts to avoid tiredness and to stay attentive while working.

Appetitive Nap

Appetitive naps are taken just for the pleasure of napping. Napping may be pleasant and can boost your mood and energy level when you wake up.

Fulfillment Nap

Children require more sleep than adults. Fulfillment naps are frequently scheduled into the days of babies and toddlers for up to two hours, sometimes longer. Still, they can occur independently in children of all ages.

Health-Related Nap

When you are unwell, you have an increased demand for sleep. This is because your immune system uses additional energy to combat illness or promote recovery. Naps are considered a necessary treatment during sickness.

When Should I Think About Taking a Nap?

You should consider scheduling a short nap if you:

  • Feelings of fresh weariness or unexpected drowsiness
  • Are you about to lose sleep — for example, as a result of a long work shift
  • Want to include planned naps into your everyday routine?
  • Shift workers often perform better with a nap during their break

However, you must time it correctly to get the most out of a nap. The majority of people will find an afternoon nap to be the most natural and beneficial. Some argue that sleep is best between 2 and 3 p.m. when individuals naturally lose awareness. The optimal time for you will be determined by how well-rested you are to begin with. A somewhat later snooze is preferable if you are well-rested. You should nap early if you are sleep deprived.

What Is the Best Way to Nap?

Follow these techniques to get the most benefits out of your nap and avoid the problem of being tired yet unable to nap:

  • Keep naps to a minimum. Aim for a 10- to 20-minute snooze. The more you sleep, the more likely you will wake up drowsy. Young people, on the other hand, may be able to handle lengthier naps.
  • Naps should be taken in the early afternoon. Napping after 3 p.m. might disrupt bedtime sleep. Individual factors such as sleep requirement, sleeping routine, age, and medication use can all play a part in selecting the optimal time of day to nap for most people.
  • Make your surroundings relaxing. Take a nap in a quiet, dark area with a comfortable temperature and minimal distractions.
  • Allow yourself time to wake up after napping before starting activities, especially ones that need a rapid or sharp response.
  • Take out your contacts and take off your eyeglasses. Sleeping with contacts in, even for a nap, comes with the risk of eye damage.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of taking a nap during the day?

Taking a nap during the day can offer several benefits, such as reducing fatigue and improving alertness, mood, and cognitive function. Napping can also enhance memory consolidation, creativity, and problem-solving abilities. Additionally, napping may be beneficial for people who work night shifts, experience sleep deprivation, or need to catch up on lost sleep.

What is the best time of day for an adult to take a nap?

The best time of day for an adult to take a nap varies depending on individual preferences and lifestyle factors. Generally, the ideal time for a nap is between 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM, as this is when the body experiences a natural dip in alertness. However, some people may prefer to nap earlier or later in the day, depending on their work schedules, sleep patterns, and personal preferences.

How long should a nap for an adult last?

The ideal length of a nap for an adult depends on the individual’s sleep needs, schedule, and personal preferences. Short naps of 20 minutes can provide a quick boost in energy and alertness without interfering with nighttime sleep.

Longer naps of 30 to 90 minutes can offer more restorative benefits, such as enhanced memory consolidation and creativity. However, longer naps can also lead to sleep inertia, a feeling of grogginess and disorientation upon waking.

Are there any situations where napping is not recommended?

Napping is generally safe and beneficial for most people, but there are some situations where it may not be recommended. For example, people with certain sleep disorders, such as insomnia or sleep apnea, may find that napping interferes with their nighttime sleep and worsens their symptoms.

Additionally, people who work in jobs that require high levels of alertness or safety, such as pilots or truck drivers, may not be able to nap during work hours.


Napping helps to relax and rejuvenate the body and has various health benefits, including reducing fatigue and improving cognitive function. However, not all naps are the same, and the duration and timing of naps can influence their effectiveness.

Children need different amounts of sleep depending on their age, and establishing a consistent nap routine can help them sleep better at night. Adults who nap have better cognitive function, alertness, and mood management. However, long naps (over an hour) have been associated with increased health risks in older adults. Anyone experiencing an increased need for naps should consult a doctor to rule out any underlying health issues.

About the author

Eric Ridenour is a health and wellness writer with a strong focus on sleep and nutrition. With a background in health science and psychology, Eric has a deep understanding of the connection between sleep and overall well-being. His expertise has been sought by various businesses and individuals, and his work has been featured in reputable publications such as Thrive Global, Drug Report, and Authority Magazine. Eric's commitment to promoting better sleep and comprehensive wellness is evident in his writing and consultations. He is a published author working on his second book.

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