Science Has Discovered the Perfect Time Of Day to Take a Nap


The prime napping time occurs between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Sleep researchers (dream job, am I right?) have also discovered the optimal nap length. It all depends on what kind of nap you want to take.

According to Sara Mednick, an assistant psychology professor at the University of California, Riverside, there are three categories of superior napping. A 10-20 minute nap is good for a “quick boost of alertness.” An hour-long nap will aid cognitive memory processing, meaning it will help the napper remember basic facts, like where he left his keys. For emotional memory and a creativity boost, Mednick recommends a 90-minute nap (for professional nappers only).

So when should we be taking these naps? In the afternoon between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Sleep experts note that it’s crucial not to nap too late, so as to not screw with normal bedtime sleeping. They also warn that if a napper experiences dreaming during a short nap — 20 minutes and less — it’s a sign of serious sleep deprivation, which should be addressed during a normal sleeping schedule, and not with a reliance on napping.

There is, however, one problem with that 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. range: it occurs in the middle of the workday. We have a classic George Costanza conundrum on our hands. 

For napping at work, I recommend MetroNaps, which has installed in-office sleep pods for, most notably, Google and NASA. Hey, maybe it’s the work-naps they’re taking over at Google that’s fueling their quest for global domination. I say you go talk to your Human Resources person right away. Or maybe after a quick 10-minute nap, you know, for that extra boost.

If you have any lingering questions about napping, like how to figure out if you’re a night owl, check out this extensive infographic from the Boston Globe. And yea, this one doesn’t recommend a 60-minute nap. But what did you think napping was, a science?