MGWashington is a reader-supported publication. We may earn affiliate commissions when you make purchases through links on our site. Learn More

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on email
Share on pocket

Power Naps: Benefits, Length and Tips

The term power Nap coined by James Mass a reputed social psychologist refers to a short term sleep which is mainly used when there is considerable discrepancy in normal sleeping schedule. However it has several other benefits in addition to compensating the sleep deficit.

Normal Sleeping Sequence

In order to clearly understand the features and benefits of power nap we must first of all get an idea about the normal sleeping sequence. And then only it will be easier to grasp the basic difference between the two.

A normal Sleeping cycle involves five stages that occur sequentially in a cyclic order during a typical night. And these stages recur approximately in every 90 to 120 minutes. In first stage we start to sink into sleep and our muscle movement slow down.

In the next stage the muscles further relaxes as we enter into a relatively deeper sleeping sequence. In the third and fourth stages we gradually enter into more intense yet dreamless sleep which is technically known as slow wave sleep or SWS.

The fifth and the final stage is called Rapid Eye Movement or REM sleep which is the deepest sleeping state and we dream in this stage.

Power Nap

But power nap includes only the first two of the five stages as mentioned above and there is no repetition of any stage as happens in normal sleeping sequence.

Therefore it is clear that a power nap is very short and shallow sleep which typically lasts for twenty to thirty minutes or even lesser in many cases.

There are varying suggestions when it comes to the duration of a power nap and different people recommend different timeframes. It starts from 10 minutes and continues up to 30 at most.

Actually shorter durations are often suggested in order to prevent the nappers from entering into the third or fourth sleeping stages of a normal sleeping sequence. And if they do they will fail to derive the actual benefits of a power nap by going into the deeper sleeping zone.

But they will neither be able to complete that normal sleep cycle due to time constraint. And the inevitable result is sleep inertia a condition in which one feels disoriented, groggy and sleepier than before.

In contrast a brief nap of 15 minutes can be considerably beneficial in multiple ways. And that is why shorter nap duration is always recommended failing which there could be more harm than help.

However this duration can vary from a person to another. As a matter of fact those who nap regularly develop a feasible idea about what duration suits best for them. For some people 15 minutes are enough whereas others may require at least 25 minutes.

Again there are personal preferences. For example some people prefer to go for a shorter power nap even if their schedule permits them for more. Therefore there is no hard and fast rule with regards to the duration of a power nap.

Generally speaking it cannot be less than 10 minutes or more than 30 minutes in most of the cases.


Scientists and experts have been exploring the advantages of power naps for years and have proved that it is really beneficial in several ways. Indeed the benefits of a power nap are many. It restores alertness and enhances the capacity to perform.

It also plays an important role in reducing stress and lifting mood. Moreover it also improves learning as well as memory. For example a power nap of 20 minutes can considerably enhance motor skills like playing a synthesizer or typing on a keyboard as proven in countless cases.

A relatively longer nap is helpful in improving the recall skill such as remembering forgotten road directions or recalling phone numbers used long back.

Moreover believe it or not a 30 minute’s power nap has the potential for successfully restoring the sleep deficit caused by a poorly slept night.


Following things must be kept in mind if you wish to have a successful power nap on a regular basis.

  • Maintain Regularity: Keep up a routine nap schedule and avoid skipping. Prime time for a power nap is the middle of the day i.e. between 1pm and 3pm. The best time is after lunch.
  • Avoid junk foods: Try to refrain from foods which are full of fat or sugar as much as possible. They meddle with your capability of falling asleep faster which is essential for a power nap.
  • Keep it short: Don’t let the nap last long. You can also set an alarm for half an hour or even lesser if you tend to fall fast asleep. Remember a nap prolonged beyond this time frame can result in sleep inertia which may ruin the actual purpose of a power nap.
  • Choose the right place: Select a place as well as time in which there will be no one to interrupt you as you take the power nap because an interrupted and unsuccessful power nap will have no conceivable benefits so as to say.
  • Go dim: Try to find a place which is faintly lit for your napping purpose. If you cannot, put on an eye mask. Blocking the lights helps to bring in the sleep faster which might take longer otherwise. Actually darkness arouses melatonin a hormone which is conducive to sleep.
  • Stay Warm: Hoard a blanket nearby which would come handy when you go for your power nap. This will also help you to fall asleep faster by contributing a comfortable sleeping condition.

However it must be mentioned at the conclusion that a power nap despite its numerous benefits is not everybody’s cup of tea. This is because some people find it awfully difficult to fall sleep in places other than the beds of their own. And for them taking a nap at workplace or anywhere else is extremely unlikely. And for this reason they are not lucky enough to enjoy the refreshing and rejuvenating benefits of a power nap.

And for them taking a nap at workplace or anywhere else is extremely unlikely. And for this reason they are not lucky enough to enjoy the refreshing and rejuvenating benefits of a power nap.