Now, you are probably wondering, how long are these naps? Do some workers curl up for a good two hours, while other employees keep slaving away at their desks? Not exactly. Most workplace naps are brief in duration. This isn’t just because company CEO’s prefer it this way — shorter nap times do offer significant benefits when it comes to physical and mental functioning.
A research team looked at the benefits of different length naps relative to no nap. Twenty-four healthy, young adults who were good sleepers and not regular nappers were recruited for the clinical trial. The study included five experimental conditions: a no-nap control and naps of precisely five, 10, 20 and 30 minutes of sleep. The researchers restricted nighttime sleep to about five hours in participants’ homes. This was followed by afternoon naps at 3:00 p.m. and three hours of post-nap testing conducted in a lab.
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The researchers found the following:
— The five-minute nap produced few benefits in comparison with the no-nap control.
— The 10-minute nap produced immediate improvements in all outcome measures (including sleep latency, subjective sleepiness, fatigue, vigor, and cognitive performance), with some of these benefits maintained for as long as 155 minutes.
— The 20-minute nap was associated with improvements emerging 35 minutes after napping and lasting up to 125 minutes after napping.
— The 30-minute nap produced a period of impaired alertness and performance immediately after napping, indicative of sleep inertia, followed by improvements lasting up to 155 minutes after the nap.
The researchers concluded with this health tip: the 10-minute nap was overall the most effective.