Napping can be great, but sometimes when you wake up after a nap, you feel dizzy and almost like you’re more tired than you were before you napped. Why does this happen?

According to Dr. Michael Breus “If you take more than 30 minutes of nap, you end up in deep sleep. Have you ever taken a nap and felt worse when you woke up? This is what is happening – you are sleeping too long and you have reached a stage of sleep that is very difficult to get out of.

Benefits of napping

What are the best ways to take a nap? Napping can be seen as a quick restart or boost for the brain . Think of when the computer is starting to run slow and things are not responding up to par, after turning everything off and doing a reboot, things come back with more speed.

The brain is very similar to that, as you take a nap, even for very short periods of time, the benefits can be seen in a number of areas.

The first thing you should know is that feeling the afternoon sleep is normal. This does not exclusively mean that you had a big lunch, or that you are depressed, or are not getting enough exercise.

This is how the cycles of animals work – every 24 hours, we have two periods of intense sleepiness. One of them is typically in the early evening, from around 2:00 am to 4:00 am, and the other is around 10 hours later, from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm.

If you are a night owl and wake up later in the morning, the evening drowsiness may come later; if you are an early riser, you can come earlier. But it happens to everyone; we are physiologically programmed for naps.

Consider the following tips to better prepare for your nap and give your brain a benefit:

  1. Find a good dark place where you can lie down. It takes about 50% longer to fall asleep sitting up, but when taking your shortest naps, sit down a bit as it will allow you to avoid falling into a deep sleep. If you dream during these naps, it could be a sign that you are sleep deprived. Arm yourself with a blanket if it’s cold.
  2. White noise can help you fall asleep, especially during the day when construction crews, garbage trucks, barking dogs, and other noisy things can conspire to destroy your nap. Keep a fan, or some small indoor fountain that is gently blowing its water, (if you have it); that can contribute to helping you fall asleep during your nap.
  3. Don’t nap too close to bedtime, or you may not be able to fall asleep afterward.
  4. Consider a job where you are allowed to take naps during the day.

How long a nap should last for brain benefits

Sleep experts suggest that taking a 10-20 minute nap can give you a quick burst of mental clarity when you’re short on time.

This can be used throughout the day, at night, before something important, or to finish beating your opponent in a video game where you know you need extra speed.

In summary…

  • A study evaluating the recovery effects of short and ultra-short naps found that napping for 5-10 minutes can create a greater sense of alertness and increased cognitive ability than taking no naps at all.
  • If you are looking for a quick recharge: take a nap for 5 – 20 minutes.
  • If you are looking for a deeper and rejuvenating sleep: take a nap for 60 – 90 minutes.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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