What is a Power Nap?

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  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 11 September 2019
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The average American has around 60 "bad days" a year; lack of sleep is the biggest contributing factor.  more...

October 20 ,  1973 :  The "Saturday Night Massacre"  more...

Studies suggest that many people experience significant drops in energy and concentration levels approximately eight hours after waking up from regular sleep. This drop typically occurs during late afternoon business hours, so there is often a loss of productivity as well. Workers may experience a loss of mental focus, visual acuity or physical stamina. To counteract these effects, a number of people take a short sleep break known as a power nap.

A power nap provides many of the same recuperative benefits of regular sleep, but in far less time. A power napper is not trying to fall into a deep form of sleep for a few hours, but rather reach the second stage of a five stage sleep cycle within an hour's time or less. In fact, many sleep experts suggest an effective power nap should only last 20-30 minutes in order to avoid the grogginess associated with interrupted sleep cycles.


During the first and second stages of a normal sleep cycle, the body's muscles have an opportunity to relax while the napper's mental state is refreshed. On average, most people reach the end of the second stage of sleep within an hour or less. Setting an alarm for that amount of time should prevent a power napper from entering deeper stages of sleep which involve dreaming and physical recuperation. Waking up from stage three, four, or five of the sleep cycle prematurely can leave the napper feeling even more groggy and less focused than before the nap.

Taking a power nap involves finding a distraction-free area and setting an alarm for at least 20 minutes, but no more than one hour. Many workers take power naps during their lunch breaks, or during extended downtime in their offices. A power nap is closer to meditation than a leisurely nap at home, however. The goal is to reach a state of mental and physical relaxation with the assurance that an alarm will not allow the napper to fall completely asleep. Ideally, a power napper should come out of the nap feeling mentally refreshed, not groggy or sleep-deprived.

A power nap can also help drivers on long trips. In order to avoid driver fatigue, a driver should pull off to a designated rest area periodically and take a short power nap before resuming the trip. Sleep deprivation combined with the hypnotic effects of highway driving can reduce a driver's reaction time and mental acuity. Some driving experts suggest taking a legal caffeine pill or caffeine-laden beverage just before taking a power nap. The caffeine will not have time to take effect during the nap, but it will start to work just as the driver goes back on the road.

Many companies around the world now recognize the benefits of a power nap, and they often encourage employees to take one at some point during working hours. Taking a short power nap during the day should not have an effect on a person's normal sleep cycle, but a longer period of deep sleep during the day might create some difficulty falling asleep at night. If time does not permit a full power nap, some people may also benefit from a few minutes of quiet meditation.


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Post 12

I take a 10 to 15 minute nap almost daily and have since I was around eight years old (I am forty now).

There were times when it was harder to get a chance to take my nap and my productivity always suffered. I could either stop for 10 to 15 minutes and be productive or be forced to struggle through extreme fatigue until I could get home.

It doesn't make any sense to me why more workplaces haven't implemented a daily nap program. It would be in their best interest.

Now that I am older I require more night time sleep than I did when I was younger but I still need my daily naps.

When I do not get my nap it makes for a long, hard day.

Post 11

I like to get as much as an hour sometimes, if I'm really suffering from sleep deprivation, but typically I do best to get between 10-20 minutes and start having grogginess problems if I go much beyond that.

One way I'll get a nap when I get off work is to pile up the blankets on the bed and sleep on top of them. Comfortable enough, but I'll always wake up within an hour, and feel refreshed enough to read or work on whatever I need to.

@anon74965: no benefit in politicizing here. Mankind has been doing this since the beginning of time and before any of the major religions were even thought of.

Post 10

i used to do this when i worked for mcdonalds inside the airport (a lot of bathroom stalls). i used to nap sitting on the toilet and no one would dare to bother me be cause they would think i had diarrhea.

Post 9

Read a book that you don't really want to read, but think you should read. That will bore you into sleep in no time.

Post 7

I love power naps, especially when my schedule is allowing for only 4-5 hrs of sleep at night. If I get a 15-25 minute power nap, I am refreshed and am able to finish my day. It is a bit embarrassing to catch a nap in my car at lunch, but my desire to feel better for the rest of the day always wins out.

Post 6

try melatonin.

Post 5

Look up sleep apnea. It's going to sound familiar to you. You might ask you doctor about it. You might even want to suggest that you be checked for it.

Post 4

The muslims thought of naps 1400 years ago. This makes no news and is anyway a confirmation for the west on matters already assimilated.

Post 3

I play soft jazz to help me sleep. It's really relaxing to me. jh

Post 2

this is great, but for me this doesn't work. i can't sleep and wake up after an hour or less and if i could i wake up feeling a headache and groggy, so i think that won't work for everyone.

Post 1

I think power naps would be great. My brain does not want to rest - have lots of chatter going on. Also, does anyone know of a good/healthy sleep remedy for night time. I am waking every two hours and it's hard to get back to sleep. --js

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