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Arianna Huffington, Mandy Moore, and I all share something in common: Our love for power naps. My affinity for napping started in high school. It was a way to cut down on my need for a full eight hours of sleep at night. When I entered college, I relied on the 10-minute power nap between classes. And now, I’ll admit that my lunch break is often swapped out for a quick snooze. Turns out, I’m not the only one who sees the strength of the power nap.
“I’m a big believer in naps,” Huffington says. “And while napping can’t be used to make up for chronic sleep deprivation, the science is clear that napping really works and can leave us feeling much more focused and energized for the rest of the day.” To her, it’s better than treating fatigue with a few shots of espresso. (We agree.)
Huffington isn’t the only celebrity who is touting the power of the snooze. In a recent interview with Bustle, Mandy Moore said, “Depending on what’s happening, I’ll try to weave in some semblance of self-care. […] It might be a nap when Gus [her son] takes a nap.”
The power of the power nap
While a typical REM sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes, you can still reap the benefits of sleep with a quick power nap. Samuel Gurevich, MD, a pulmonologist and sleep apnea specialist at the Cleveland Clinic, says a 10- to 30-minute catnap can improve your alertness, mood, and focus. If you’re feeling a little stuck, a midday doze may also help boost creativity and learning capacity.
Shorter naps may actually be better if you need a quick boost during the day. A midday nap that’s longer than 30 minutes may cause you to feel drowsy or groggy afterward. However, if you experienced a particularly sleepless night, a longer nap may allow you to make up a portion of that lost sleep. But it’s not a long term solution. Naps can’t replace a full night of sleep.
How to power nap
A successful power nap goes a bit beyond crashing for a few minutes on the couch. If you want to start power napping, Gurevich says think about the timing of your snooze. Don’t wait until you hit that late afternoon slump. Instead, try to nap earlier in the afternoon to avoid messing with your nighttime rest. The optimal time? Between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
And if you struggle to wind down for your midday rest, consider practicing slow, restorative yoga poses for sleep. Whether you prefer to practice Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend), Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose) or Janu Sirsasana (Head-to-Knee Pose), drifting off just became a little bit easier. Beyond typical restful poses, you may want to consider integrating yoga nidra or non-sleep deep rest (NSDR) into your daily practice. A better night of sleep (or a fantastic power nap) awaits you.