What is a Nano Nap?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
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  • Last Modified Date: 03 September 2019
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A nano nap is a period of sleep which lasts between 15 and 30 seconds. It is generally involuntary, and often occurs when people are incredibly tired and bored. Many office workers and students are familiar with the concept, thanks to falling asleep during meetings and classes. Although napping in general is believed to be beneficial, the benefits of the nano nap are dubious, since one is generally not asleep long enough to truly relax.

Falling asleep appears to benefit humans in a number of ways. Sleep promotes general healing, relaxation, and normal hormone levels. Unconsciousness also appears to have an important role in the storage and processing of memories. Different organisms require different amounts of sleep, and naps have long been recommended for humans.

By taking a nap or siesta, people can refresh themselves, making their days ultimately much more productive and pleasant. Many people find a 20 minute “power nap” optimal, since it seems to recharge the sleeper extremely effectively. People can also take shorter naps such as micronaps, naps which only last a few minutes, and they may wake with a surprising sense of well being. For people who are trying to integrate napping into their routine, the best time to nap is in the late morning or early afternoon. In the late afternoon, it is possible to slip into deep sleep, which can leave you feeling groggy and out of it, rather than refreshed.


Because a nano nap only lasts a few seconds, it does not contribute much to the napper's general health. In fact, since one usually feels guilty and stressed when waking up from a nano nap, it is entirely possible that the nap may actually make the napper feel worse. However, it can be used as an indicator to suggest that it is time for a more lengthy nap, or a change of environment.

People are often scolded for falling asleep at work or in class. This may not be the best approach to the problem, since falling into a nano nap may be a symptom of a health problem. If you find yourself frequently drifting off, you may want to consider better sleep hygiene so that your nightly rest is more beneficial. It is also a good idea to think about integrating naps into your routine. Many workers, for example, are permitted several 15 minutes breaks every day; you may want to take advantage of one of these break periods to nap in a dark, calm area of your workplace.


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Post 11

I like that idea of a siesta in the early afternoon. If you know that you are going to have a specified time to nap and get yourself refreshed, you could go to bed a little later.I would think that a nap less than 15 minutes wouldn't be very beneficial. Otherwise, your body wouldn't have enough time to get in a state where your brain could benefit.

I know a lot of elderly people take an extended siesta after lunch. In many cases, it's from lack of stimulation. They ought to be encouraged to get up and move around, or engage in some kind of activity with other people. With all their napping, then they have problems sleeping at night.

Post 10

I guess that sleep patterns must vary a lot among people. I've never been able to take a nap unless I had practically no sleep the night before. I can feel really wiped out, but just can't get drowsy enough to take a nap.

I do think, though, that there are reasons why people drift off for a nano nap. They may have sleep apnea and aren't getting refreshing sleep at night. Or they just don't allow themselves time to get as much sleep as they need at night. Or they may be taking a medication that causes drowsiness.

I've always been concerned about those people who can drop off to sleep so easily. I wonder how many traffic accidents are caused by falling asleep at the wheel.

Post 9

I am a big fan of naps, and like to enjoy one any time I get the chance. The best kind of nap is longer than a nano nap. If I can get a solid 20-30 minutes, I feel energized and ready for the rest of the day.

I have always said, I would like to live in a place where they have siesta's every day.

My husband takes many nano naps - just about anytime he sits down for any length of time. He works outside and puts in long hours every day.

Any time he is able to sit and relax for a few minutes he falls asleep. This may be a few seconds like a

nano nap, or longer if given the chance.

Sometimes it can be kind of embarrassing when we are in church or at some kind of public event. He is used to be jammed in the side by my elbow if it happens too often.

Post 8

@fify - I think one reason older people may take more nano naps is because their minds and bodies aren't being stimulated. Many times they aren't physically and mentally able to do what they want to.

The times I have visited a nursing home I see many people sitting in their chairs dozing. Many of them do this every day - all day long. Sometimes I wonder what else there is for them to do than sit there and watch TV and sleep.

My dad is 83 and stays very active and healthy. He purposely tries to keep his life busy and full and enjoy as much from each day he has.

Not to say that he doesn't enjoy a good nap every so often, but he isn't ready to be someone who takes many nano naps throughout the day.

Post 7

Why do older people take more nano naps and naps in general than younger folks?

My grandfather takes nano naps and power naps all throughout the day. Sometimes I'm talking to him and then I hear him snoring! It's really funny.

I'm also working part time at a restaurant and the older folks who eat at the restaurant tend to have lots of coffee after food to keep themselves awake. They often tell me that they'll fall asleep otherwise! I wonder why that is?

Post 6

Sometimes I take nano naps while watching TV. When I realize that I'm tired and need to rest, I get up and go to bed to take a full nap. But this time I can't sleep!

I don't think nano naps are natural or beneficial either. I think it's because we are not doing something interactive, like watching TV or listening to someone talk. If I change what I'm doing, like reading a book or taking a walk instead, I don't feel sleepy anymore.

If it happens at work, I just have some coffee or tea and I'm able to concentrate on work again.

Post 5

I'm not the kind of student who regularly sleeps during lectures. But it has happened to me several times where I found myself nano napping during a particularly boring lecture.

It happened to me freshman year of college during an Economy class several times. The lecture room was an auditorium and the lights were dim because the Professor had a powerpoint presentation going. He also had a very soft and low voice and spoke pretty slowly. There was basically no opportunity to interact or ask questions in this class and I sometimes would dose off if the lecture was not interesting.

I was never fully asleep though because every time I was about to sleep, my head full fall forward waking me up. So it was literally 15 second nano naps. I would feel so ashamed of myself when I woke up and hoped nobody saw me dozing off.

Post 4

@SurfNTurf -Sleep is very important, but I think that people should get the rest they need from their night time sleep rather than from sleep throughout the day because day time naps might interfere with night time sleep.

My husband for example can’t nap during the day. He says that if he took a nap during the day he would not be able to sleep at night which is when he really needs to rest. So napping might work for some people but it won’t work for everyone. I don't think that my husband even knows how to nap.

Post 3

@Latte31-The problem with napping is that it has to be long enough for you to get some benefits from it. For example, when I was pregnant I always used to take an afternoon nap and it was amazing how good it made me feel.

It was not a long nap. I was asleep for maybe twenty or thirty minutes, but it made a huge difference for me in the way that I felt. I know that many European countries offer their employees a two or three hour lunch so that they could take a little nap before they finish up their shift.

I think that this is a great idea and something that they should adopt here in the United States.

Post 2

@Crispety - You know I remember having a really boring class in college called “Intro to Data Processing.” I had a professor that had a monotone voice and this class was at 8:00 AM. You can just imagine how many nano naps I took in this class because not only was the subject matter boring, but the professor’s voice just put me to sleep.

I always tried to sit in the back of the room so that he would not notice that I fell asleep. I always felt really tired afterward so I know that this wasn’t a good idea.

Post 1

I never knew that there was a term for sleeping like this. I guess I am guilty of taking nano naps at the movie theater. I don’t know what it is but I always seem to doze off when I go to the movies. Maybe it is because the theater is dark and I am comfortable. It doesn’t happen every time, but if I am a little tired I will usually sleep for a few minutes maybe beyond the nano nap time frame.

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