A writer for the Pittsburg Post Gazette reviews ways to supercharge your power nap.
- If you don’t need to perform well in the 20 to 30 minutes after waking up, nap for as long as you can, said Cassie Hilditch, Ph.D., a sleep researcher at the Fatigue Countermeasures Laboratory in the Department of Psychology at San José State University. Critical work activities, driving and other cognitive tasks are usually impaired for a period after waking because of sleep inertia, but the longer you sleep, the better long-term benefits you will typically get.
- If you need to be alert right away, limiting your nap to 20 minutes or fewer will typically help you reduce the risk of post-nap grogginess, depending on your sleep history and sleep “debt.” A short nap is also better if you need to fall asleep again soon.
- For the most extreme combination of benefits, Ms. Hilditch suggested a “nappuccino” — drinking coffee immediately before a 20-minute nap. Since caffeine takes approximately 20 minutes to kick in, it should counteract any sleep inertia after the nap, which can result in the benefits of sleep without the grogginess.
However, if you find yourself relying on naps or caffeine to get you through the day, examine your routine to see if you can prioritize nighttime sleep. Because longer sleep is more restorative and important than naps, fragmented sleep isn’t healthy in the long run.
On the flip side, Kristine Wilckens, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, pointed out that having too much total sleep can have some poor health outcomes, especially for middle-aged or older adults who are getting more than nine hours of sleep per day. Older adults should consider introducing activities to increase their alertness if they find themselves sleeping a full night and additionally napping during the day.