November 10, 2021

Should You Take Power Naps?

How a quick catnap can give you a boost

woman taking power nap

Unless you live in one of the (lucky) countries where midday siestas are the norm, you probably aren’t used to taking an afternoon nap. But it may be time to start.

Advertisement

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

You can reap several benefits from a short power nap, says pulmonologist and sleep apnea specialist Samuel Gurevich, MD. But they aren’t for everyone. Find out what makes a nap a “power nap” — and whether it could give you the midday boost you’re craving.

What is a power nap?

Power naps are short and sweet, Dr. Gurevich explains, taking advantage of our natural sleep cycles. We move through several different phases of sleep — some light, some deep. A full sleep cycle typically lasts about 90 minutes.

Longer naps have the downside of producing more sleep inertia — that drowsy feeling you experience when you wake up. “If you go through a whole sleep cycle, you’re more likely to wake up pretty groggy,” Dr. Gurevich says.

Short power naps cut the risk of waking up in a daze.

Power nap time: How long is a power nap?

There’s no medical definition for a power nap, Dr. Gurevich says. But in general, the term refers to short naps ranging from about 10 to 30 minutes.

A power nap that lasts 20 to 30 minutes is usually ideal. It’s long enough to give you all the benefits of sleep without leaving you feeling groggy when you wake up.

Advertisement

Power nap benefits

Daytime naps might be especially helpful if you’re dragging after a lousy night’s sleep. But even for people who aren’t sleep deprived, a power nap can be beneficial. “Power naps can help you refill your tank a bit,” Dr. Gurevich says.

A short afternoon nap can help you feel less sleepy and lead to improvements in:

  • Mood.
  • Alertness.
  • Reaction time.
  • Short-term memory.
  • Focus and concentration.

If you had a late night last night — and you have the time today — you might benefit from a longer nap. Snoozing for an hour or 90 minutes can help you make up some of that sleep deficit. This longer nap length has also been shown to boost memory and creativity.

When power naps aren’t the cure

If you’re chronically sleep deprived, don’t count on power naps to save the day, Dr. Gurevich says.

“If you have chronic insomnia, or a medical issue like sleep apnea that’s interfering with your sleep, a power nap during the day isn’t a fix,” he notes. “The ultimate answer is treating the underlying problem.”

How to take a power nap

Some people pop up from a power nap, ready to take on the world. Others take a while to shake off the sleep inertia and stop feeling groggy. It might take some trial and error to figure out if a power nap works for you.

Advertisement

But if you can carve out time for an afternoon catnap, these tips can help you maximize the benefits.

1. Set an alarm

To make sure your power nap doesn’t turn into a marathon sleep sesh, set an alarm to wake you after 20 or 30 minutes.

2. Make it early

Sleeping too late in the day can make it harder to fall asleep at night, setting you up for a day of sleep deprivation. “Nap earlier in the afternoon to avoid interfering with nighttime sleep,” Dr. Gurevich advises.

3. Set the stage

A calm sleep environment is as important for your day slumber as it is for your night sleep. Grab a cozy blanket and find a cool, quiet, dark place to rest. “Noise, light and uncomfortable temperatures can interfere with the quality of your sleep, even if you don’t remember waking during the nap,” he says.

So what are you waiting for? Carve out a comfy corner, grab an eye mask and set a timer. That power nap is calling your name.

Related Articles

Person asleep in a chair with an eyemask on and a blanket over their lap
March 16, 2022
How Long Should You Nap?

Not too little, not too much

woman napping on the couch
September 12, 2021
Napping: 3 Proven Health Benefits

Napping benefits and how to enjoy them

person sitting on bed stretching
January 22, 2024
How To Become a Morning Person

Break up with your snooze button by shifting your bedtime and establishing a consistent nighttime routine

female awake in bed staring ahead with male next to her asleep
January 19, 2024
3 Steps for Managing Sleep Maintenance Insomnia

Keeping a sleep diary and seeing a sleep specialist can help you stay asleep and get the ZZZs you need

person snoring in bed with partner
November 14, 2023
Could You Have Sleep Apnea Without Knowing It?

Ignoring the warning signs could put you at risk for serious health issues

Person relaxes in bed reading before going to sleep at night.
September 24, 2023
Sleep Hygiene: 7 Tips for a Better Bedtime Routine

Winding down before bed is key to better sleep

Tired adult with head propped on hand trying to do research with books on table.
September 10, 2023
Why Am I Still Tired After a Good Night’s Sleep?

Sleep disorders, diet and mental health can affect the quality of your sleep

Person sleeping in bed with cat cuddled up next to them.
August 14, 2023
Good News: You Can Make Up for Lost Sleep Over the Weekend (Kind Of)

Rest up, but make sure you don’t oversleep — it can be as bad for you as undersleeping

Trending Topics

glass of cherry juice with cherries on table
Sleepy Girl Mocktail: What’s in It and Does It Really Make You Sleep Better?

This social media sleep hack with tart cherry juice and magnesium could be worth a try

Exercise and diet over three months is hard to accomplish.
Everything You Need To Know About the 75 Hard Challenge

Following five critical rules daily for 75 days may not be sustainable

Person in foreground standing in front of many presents with person in background holding gift bags.
What Is Love Bombing?

This form of psychological and emotional abuse is often disguised as excessive flattery

Ad