Does napping make you more tired? Read this article to find out. Discover the science of naps, how to take energizing ones and other tips for snoozing well.
The moment your head hits the pillow, you're out like a light. It’s midday, and you've succeeded at carving out time for an “energizing” nap. Or so you think.
But the problem is you wake up an hour later feeling sluggish and disoriented. And you’re hit by an overwhelming wave of fatigue. (OMG.) This brings you to ask a question many others do, too: “Does napping make you more tired?”
Well, the answer isn't as easy as yes or no. A couple of factors affect how you feel when you wake up from a snooze. These include the length of the nap, what stage of sleep you’re in when you get up, and your unique sleep patterns.
To answer the question, we first need to delve into the scientific rationale behind napping. Here’s what you’ll find in this article:
It’s not unusual to think your brain and body completely shut down when you sleep. But that’s far from the truth. Both are actively undergoing processes that repair and strengthen you.
When it comes to napping, the length affects how you feel when you wake up. Short naps (also known as power naps) can help you feel more alert and improve your cognition skills.
The power nap lasts 20 minutes (30 tops), which means you usually won’t transition to the deep sleep stage. It lasts long enough to get you through the lighter sleep stages, so you wake up feeling refreshed instead of tired.
Sleep occurs in cycles, with each one lasting about 90 minutes on average. Each cycle consists of 4 sleep stages.
The first one is the stage wherein you move from wakefulness to sleep. It’s also known as NREM Stage 1. The next is NREM Stage 2, wherein your body temperature drops. Your heart rate and breathing slow down. And your eye movements stop.
The third stage is called deep sleep. This is when your breathing and blood pressure decrease. It’s also when your body repairs itself, including bones, tissue and muscles.
Finally, there’s REM sleep. It’s when your body is in a relaxed and immobile state. But your brain activity starts to pick up. This is the stage where dreaming occurs. Your eyes move quickly and that’s why this stage is referred to as Rapid Eye Movement.
Napping for more than 30 minutes can cause you to wake up smack in the middle of a sleep cycle. Waking up during the deep sleep stage leads to sleep inertia. And this refers to that dreaded feeling of grogginess and disorientation.
However, there is a type of nap that lasts 90 minutes. This nap length allows you to go through an entire sleep cycle. This means you won’t experience sleep inertia when you wake up. Learn more about it in our blog post on the types of naps.
How long should I nap to feel energized?
So, how long should you nap for an energy boost?
Everyone has different sleep needs and schedules so nap length might vary. But as a rule of thumb, a 20-minute power nap or a 90-minute nap is ideal for feeling recharged. Want to wake up without feeling tired? Then avoid waking up during the deep sleep stage.
The benefits of power naps include waking up feeling more alert and energized. You won’t experience sleep inertia. But it’s a well-deserved break that will help you power through the rest of the day. (Pun intended.)
As we mentioned earlier, a 90-minute nap lets you go through an entire sleep cycle. And you won’t wake up feeling tired. It’ll also give your problem-solving ability and creativity a boost. It also means you’ll hit the REM sleep stage. Sleep Foundation says it impacts your ability to remember and process emotions(1).
But let’s face it. Not everyone has the time to snooze for 90 minutes. And if what you’re looking for is an energy boost, then a 20- to 30-minute nap does wonders.
Now what if you’re waking up from a 20-minute power nap still feeling tired? It could be a sign of sleep deprivation.
Is daily napping beneficial?
So are daily naps healthy? The short answer is yes. Napping benefits your mental, physical and emotional well-being.
There’s a “but” though. Napping too often or late in the day can mess with your nighttime sleep. Keep this up and you’ll be facing a vicious cycle of daytime sleepiness and nighttime sleeplessness. So make sure to strike a balance.
We recommend napping between 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. The schedule and nap duration are entirely up to you. Just keep in mind the general rules of thumb and you’re good to go!
Tips for Taking Energizing Naps
Here are some tips for getting a restorative snooze:
Find a quiet, dark and cool place where you won't be disturbed. If you can nap lying down, the better.
Nap in the early afternoon between 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Any later and you’ll have trouble sleeping at night.
Set an alarm to avoid snoozing for too long. Otherwise, you’ll be answering the question “Does napping make you more tired?” with a resounding yes.
Sleep Products That Optimize Your Naps
Ideally, naps should be taken lying down. The ideal nap environment is dark, cool and quiet. You might have control over the thermostat at home. But with daytime noise and light, darkness and silence can play hard to get.
Here’s a list of sleep products that will help make snoozing pleasant, easy and effective.
#1 A napping pillow made for snoozing on your desk
A big challenge that many nappers face is snoozing in a busy office.
Lucky you if the office has a sleep station for employees. If not, then you know how uncomfortable it can be to catch zzzs on your desk. And that’s why there’s such a thing as a nap pillow.
But some were made better than others. And we don’t mind saying that Manta Nap Arc is one of them. It was made especially for snoozing on your desk at work.
Manta Nap Arc
Unique arc design that supports the head and neck while delivering zero arm pressure
Easily adjust the height by pulling and tugging on the strap
Packs flat for easy storage
Features cooling fabric and a machine-washable slipcover
#2 A sleep mask that’s really good at blocking out light
Picture this. You’re in dire need of a good nap but it’s just way too bright at work. Light when you’re trying to snooze isn’t just irritating. It also sends a signal to your brain that it's time to be up.
And that’s where a sleep mask comes in handy. It keeps you in complete darkness, which helps you wind down for your nap. Not to mention kickstarts melatonin (the sleep hormone) production.
Wait. Don’t yell “Stop that infernal racket!” And make instant enemies out of everyone at work. It’s completely unnecessary with a comfy set of earplugs. Because really, how can anyone expect to take a decent nap with disruptive noise?
And with that, we’d like to present you with our version, Manta Earplugs.
Comes in a pack of 10 pairs
Vibrant blue color (hard to miss)
Moldable and soft slow-release foam for a custom fit
Ergonomic bell shape design that suits the human ear canal
So, does napping make you more tired? If done incorrectly you may feel groggy and disoriented when you wake up. But take the time and effort to do it right, and you’ll get more than just an energy boost. Napping right has a positive impact on your productivity, mood and brain power.
Remember too, that a nap isn’t a substitute for a good night's sleep. If you still find yourself tired after a 20-minute snooze, it might indicate that you’re sleep-deprived.
Take a closer look at your nighttime sleep if you’re consistently tired and need to nap all the time. Speak to a healthcare provider for advice on how to fix any sleep issues.
We hope this article helps you get the restorative naps you deserve.
(1) “Stages of Sleep: What Happens in a Sleep Cycle” Sleep Foundation, www.sleepfoundation.org/stages-of-sleep/rem-sleep. Accessed 08 September 2023.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this website or provided through our blog, e-mails, or programs is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment that can be provided by your healthcare professionals.