How to nap to improve mood and alertness.

Did you know statistics indicate we are becoming more not less sleep deprived?  Poor quality or lack of sleep that leads to sleep deprivation contributes to and is associated with a range of health conditions and diseases.

Other than investing in 7-8 hours sleep a night, did you know you can use napping as a simple strategy to help combat sleep deprivation.

Read on to understand how to reap these benefits of napping.

1. What are the benefits of napping?

  • Improved mood
  • Improve cognitive performance through increased alertness, particularly the following 2-3 hours
  • Improved work performance from feeling refreshed and re-energised
  • Stress relief, a period of time where you can disengage from busyness for a short while

All of these benefits can be achieved from napping.  And if you do it right you will not be left feeling groggy nor will your nap interfere with your nighttime sleep?

2.  What types of naps are there?


Humans are called monophasic sleepers.  This means our day is divided into two parts – one where we sleep and one where we are awake.


However we can benefit from napping.  There are 3 general types of naps:
  • Planned nap:  This is where you know you will be missing some sleep and you take a nap before hand to get you through.
  • Emergency nap:  This is when you suddenly feel tired and take a nap.  Very important to do for example when you are driving long distances in the car.
  • Habit nap: This is a nap built into your routine.  You generally take it at the same time, for the same amount of time.  E.g. siesta after lunch, an Sunday afternoon nap, late afternoon at work.

3. Who are famous napper’s from history?

Wondering if naps really can help you.  Start napping and you will keep good company.
Did you know Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Napoleon and Albert Einstein all valued an afternoon nap?  Pretty good company to be part of.


4.  What are the tips for effective napping?
  • Limit the nap to 10 – 20 minutes at most, particularly if you are seeking to increase alertness short term.
  • Find a place to lie down if at all possible so your body can relax.
  • Do not nap too early in the day as you are unlikely to be tired.
  • Do not lap too late in the day, the later you nap the more likely it will interfere with night time sleep.
  • Nap in a room with a comfortable temperature, not too hot and not too cold.
  • Limit the surrounding noise.
  • Aim to keep the room darkish, block out any bright lights.

A 10-minute nap is the nap that gives most benefits by reducing sleepiness and improving cognitive performance.   Studies indicate if you nap for longer than 30 minutes you are more likely to experience sleep inertia and hence feel groggy afterwards.

5.  Which groups of people in the community in particular can benefit from napping?

  • Those who do shift work.
  • Those whose night-time sleep is being disrupted, for example new mum’s.
  • Those suffering from narcolepsy.
  • Those who rise early each day for an extended wakeful day.

6.  Who should not nap?

  • Those who are having trouble sleeping at night.  Napping will most likely exacerbate their nighttime sleep issues.
  • Those who like to nap longer than 25-30.  Napping longer than 30 minutes increases the risk it will interfere with your nighttime sleep.
  • Those prone to something called sleep inertia.  Sleep inertia is when you feel groggy or disoriented when you awake from a deep sleep.
  • Some studies have indicated that those with a diagnosed heart condition, may increase their risk with napping.

7. What are the myths associated with napping?

  • Only lazy people nap.
  • People who nap are not interested in performing well at work.
  • Napping is only useful for kids, those who are sick and the elderly.

All of these things are untrue!

8. How do I build napping into my routine?

  • Pick a time of day where you can find 10-15 minutes to take time out for your nap.
  • Schedule it for the same time each day or every couple of days to establish a routine.
  • Create an environment in the room you are going to take the nap that promotes & supports napping (see above).
  • Practise – it will help build it into your routine.


ciao Jan