When should I consider a nap?

You might consider making time for a nap if you:

  • Experience new fatigue or unexpected sleepiness
  • Are about to experience sleep loss, for example, due to a long work shift
  • Want to make planned naps part of your daily routine

Could a sudden increased need for naps indicate a health problem?

If you're experiencing an increased need for naps and there's no obvious cause of new fatigue in your life, talk to your doctor. You could have a sleep disorder or another medical condition that's disrupting your nighttime sleep.

What's the best way to take a nap?

To get the most out of a nap, follow these simple tips:

  • Keep naps short. Aim to nap for only 10 to 30 minutes. The longer you nap, the more likely you are to feel groggy afterward.
  • Take naps in the afternoon. The best time for a nap is usually midafternoon, around 2 or 3 p.m. This is the time of day when you might experience post-lunch sleepiness or a lower level of alertness. In addition, naps taken during this time are less likely to interfere with nighttime sleep. Keep in mind, however, that individual factors — such as your need for sleep and your sleeping schedule — also can play a role in determining the best time of day to nap.
  • Create a restful environment. Nap in a quiet, dark place with a comfortable room temperature and few distractions.

After napping, be sure to give yourself time to wake up before resuming activities — particularly those that require a quick or sharp response.

Nov. 21, 2012 See more In-depth