The Best Nap Length for You: How to Recharge in the Afternoon

Fact Checked Medically reviewed by Tanja Premru-Sršen


We all know the feeling of being exhausted in the middle of the day.

A quick power nap can sometimes be the perfect solution to get us through the rest of the day. But have you ever wondered if there is an ideal nap length for you?

It turns out that there is! Taking into account your sleep cycle, circadian rhythm, and energy levels can help determine the best time to take a nap and the ideal duration.

If you’re looking to get the most out of your power naps, keep reading to find out the best nap lengths for you.

Why Should You Nap

There are many benefits to napping, which is why it’s become such a popular way to recharge. Naps can improve your mood, increase alertness, and boost productivity.

Napping can also help improve your memory and cognitive function. In fact, a study published in Hopkins Medicine showed that napping can help improve learning and memory retention.

There are other benefits to napping as well. Napping can help reduce stress, improve your sleep quality at night, and even help you lose weight! We’ll explore all of these benefits in more detail below.

How Long Should You Nap (Duration)

The duration of your nap is just as important as the timing.

A too-short nap might not do much to help you recharge, while a too-long nap can leave you experiencing the effects of sleep inertia.

The sweet spot for napping is usually around 10 to 20 minutes. This duration will give you the benefits of increased alertness and productivity and will not send you into the REM sleep or deep sleep stages.

If you’re looking for a longer nap, aim for 30 to 60 minutes. This duration will help you improve your memory and cognitive function.

However, if you nap for too long, you might find it difficult to wake up and feel tired later in the day.

When to Take a Nap (Timing)

The best time to take a nap is usually in the afternoon, around 2 or 3 PM. This is because our natural body clock, or circadian rhythm, dips in the afternoon.

If you can’t nap at this time, try to nap as early in the day as possible. Napping too late in the day can interfere with your sleep stages.

If you are sleep-deprived due to a sleep disorder or shift work, you might benefit from taking a quick nap prior to your shift. This can help you stay alert and productive during your work hours.

Benefits of a Nap

As we mentioned earlier, there are many benefits to napping. Below are some of the most important benefits of napping.

Improved Mood

A good midday nap not only helps you feel refreshed and ready to face the rest of the day, but it can also make you happier.

Taking a nap has been linked to frustration tolerance, increased positivity, and improved overall mood.

Increased Alertness

One of the best benefits of napping is increased alertness. Short naps for even 10 minutes can help you feel more alert and focused.

This is because napping helps to restore your energy levels and improve cognitive function.

Reduced Stress

Napping can also help reduce stress.

When you’re stressed, your body releases the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is a natural stress response hormone that can have negative effects on your health.

Napping has been shown to reduce cortisol levels and improve stress tolerance. This means that napping can help you feel less stressed and more relaxed.

Improved Sleep Quality

Napping can also help improve your sleep quality at night. When you get enough sleep at night, you wake up feeling refreshed and energized.

Napping can help you achieve this by regulating your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.

Napping by Age

Napping is beneficial for people of all ages, but the type and duration of a nap will vary depending on your age.

Below are some general guidelines for napping by age group.

Newborns (0-3 months)

At this age, newborns usually don’t need a nap, but some might take a short catnap during the day. Newborns usually sleep 16 to 18 hours a day.

Babies (4-11 months)

Babies usually need one or two naps during the day. The duration of these naps will depend on the individual baby, but they are usually around 2 to 3 hours.

Toddlers (1-3 years)

At 18 months, toddlers usually drop their morning nap and start taking one afternoon nap. The duration of this nap is usually around 1 to 2 hours.

Preschoolers (4-5 years)

Most preschoolers stop napping altogether, but some might still need a short catnap during the day.

Older Children (6-12 years)

Children at this age rarely take naps. But if they do, the best nap length is around 20-30 minutes.

This short amount of time allows them to get some refreshment without impacting their good night’s sleep too much.


Teens usually don’t need naps, but on occasion, a short 15-20 minute catnap can be refreshing. Any longer than this and it might interfere with their full night’s sleep.


Most adults don’t need naps, but some might benefit from short daytime naps. The best nap length for adults is usually around 20-30 minutes.

This short amount of time allows them to get some refreshment without impacting their nighttime sleep.

How to Nap – Tips for Napping

Below are some tips for taking the perfect nap.

  • Pick the Right Time: The best time to nap is usually in the early afternoon when your energy levels are starting to dip. This is usually around 2 or 3 p.m. If you wait until later in the day to nap, you might find it harder to fall asleep.
  • Choose a Quiet Place: Find a quiet place to nap where you can relax without any distractions. This might be in your bedroom, on the couch, or in a hammock.
  • Set a Time Limit: Nap for around 20-30 minutes to avoid feeling groggy when you wake up. Any longer than this and you might have trouble falling asleep at night.
  • Stick to a Regular Schedule: Try to nap at the same time every day so your body gets used to it. This will make it easier for you to fall asleep when you need to nap.
  • Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine: Avoid drinking alcohol or caffeine before napping. These substances can make it harder for you to fall asleep.
  • Wear Comfortable Clothes: Wear loose, comfortable clothes that won’t restrict your movement. This will help you relax and fall asleep faster.

Related Questions

Is a 45-Minute Nap Good?

A 45-minute nap is a good length of time for a nap. This length of time allows you to get some refreshment without affecting your nighttime slumber too much.

Is a 90 Minute Nap Good?

A 90-minute nap is too long and might interfere with your nighttime sleep. Try to nap for around 20-30 minutes instead. This will allow you to get the benefits of a nap without disrupting your sleep cycles.

Is 30 Minutes a Good Nap?

A 30-minute nap is a good length of time for a nap. This length of time allows you to get some refreshment without impacting your nighttime sleep too much. If you nap for any longer than this, you might find it harder to fall asleep at night.


The best nap length is between 10 to 20 minutes. However, for most people, 20 to 30 minutes is ideal.

Nap for too long and you might experience grogginess when you wake up. Nap for too short and you might not feel refreshed.

Nap when you feel tired and your body will thank you for it!