RISE Sleep Tracker
One of Apple's Best Apps of 2024

A Sleep Doctor's Guide to the Best Nap Length For You

Find your perfect nap length by considering your sleep needs, goals, and timing. Experiment with durations to maximize benefits and minimize grogginess.
Written by
Jeff Kahn, M.S., Rise Science Co-Founder
Reviewed by
Chester Wu, MD, Rise Science Medical Reviewer
Our Editorial Standards
We bring sleep research out of the lab and into your life. Every post begins with peer-reviewed studies — not third-party sources — to make sure we only share advice that can be defended to a room full of sleep scientists.
Learn more
Updated Regularly
We regularly update our articles to explain the latest research and shifts in scientific consensus in a simple and actionable way.

What's the Best Nap Length?

  • Short naps (10-20 mins) improve alertness but wear off quickly; longer naps (40-90 mins) boost complex thinking but may cause sleep inertia or grogginess.
  • Consider factors like your work schedule and specific goals when customizing your nap length. Take into account how long it takes for you to fall asleep and schedule a 30-minute buffer after waking up from a longer nap before you tackle important work.
  • Nap timing is crucial: nap during your circadian energy dip for optimal benefits; naps too late in the day can interfere with that night's sleep.
  • Make the most of your nap: create a cool, dark, and quiet sleep environment, and use relaxation techniques for efficient napping.
  • Use the RISE app for personalized insights on sleep debt, nap timing, and sleep hygiene.

Napping can be a powerful tool to boost mood, increase alertness, enhance memory and learning, and reduce stress. 

Different nap lengths have varying benefits and drawbacks. Shorter naps are less likely to cause sleep inertia, while longer naps can lead to grogginess due to the higher likelihood of deep sleep.

The best nap length for you will depend on your own sleep needs, goals, and how much time you have. You might have to experiment with different nap length durations to maximize your benefits and minimize your post-nap grogginess.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to find your ideal nap length and explain why nap timing is just, if not more, important than the duration of your snooze. We’ll also share how the RISE sleep and energy tracker app can help you determine how long to nap for, the best time to nap, and how to get the most out of your nap by preparing the perfect sleep environment and perfecting your sleep hygiene.

Advice from a sleep doctor:

“Napping in the early afternoon can be a great way to catch up on sleep and give you an energy boost when your energy naturally dips. If you’re new to naps, start with a 10-15 minute nap and see how you feel. You can gradually increase your nap duration to find the length that suits you best. You may find a power nap is all you need on a weekday, while a longer 60-90 minute nap is a better fit for the weekend. To make the most of your nap, make sure your sleeping environment is just as optimal for sleep as it is at night: cool, dark, quiet, and comfortable.”

Rise Science Medical Reviewer Dr. Chester Wu

What’s the Best Nap Length?

Naps can reduce drowsiness and boost your energy. But different nap lengths have varying benefits in terms of mood, alertness, and performance. 

The longer you snooze, the more lasting the nap benefits are. The advantages of short naps usually fade after one to three hours, while those of longer naps can last up to several hours.

That being said, because shorter naps are less likely to set off slow-wave sleep (deep sleep), the trade-off is little to no sleep inertia. You probably won't feel groggy upon awakening. Short naps may be more ideal if you have to hit the ground running the moment you wake up. 

Meanwhile, the odds of deep sleep are higher with longer naps — a 30-minute nap has 7.5 times more slow-wave activity than a 10-minute nap. This makes grogginess a likely side effect of extended shut-eye.

Here are the benefits and drawbacks of different nap lengths:

10-20-Minute Power Nap

Benefits: Power naps can provide a quick energy boost, increase alertness, and even boost your confidence without causing grogginess upon waking. This short duration helps keep you in the lighter stages of non-REM sleep, minimizing sleep inertia and allowing you to easily return to your daily activities with greater focus and productivity. Power naps are ideal for a short break at work. 

Drawbacks: The longer the nap, the longer-lasting the benefits. Expect the benefits of a power nap to last 1-3 hours (the advantages of longer naps can last several hours). 

We cover more on how long a power nap should be as well as its benefits here.

30-Minute Nap

Benefits: A 30-minute nap can provide more restorative slumber than a power nap. A 30-minute nap can improve mood, enhance creativity, and support memory consolidation. 

Drawbacks: Napping for this duration may result in sleep inertia, as it increases the likelihood of waking up during the deeper stages of sleep. You may feel groggy or disoriented upon waking and may take longer to regain full alertness. To minimize grogginess, consider limiting your nap to 20 minutes or extending it to 60-90 minutes.

60-Minute Nap

Benefits: Napping for 60 minutes allows for slow-wave sleep and can provide benefits such as improved memory consolidation and retention, which is useful for learning and retaining new information. Creative thinking and emotion-processing skills rely on rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which typically appears in long naps of at least 60 minutes.

Drawbacks: This nap length can result in significant sleep inertia, so it may be best suited for situations where you have adequate time to recover before resuming mentally-demanding tasks. 60-minute naps also have the potential to negatively affect that night’s sleep. In one small study of healthy seniors, a roughly 60-minute nap reduced night sleep efficiency by 2.4% as well as nighttime sleep duration by 48 minutes. 

90-Minute Nap (Full Sleep Cycle Nap) 

Benefits: A 90-minute nap is enough time to complete a full sleep cycle, including both non-REM and REM sleep stages. This duration can support memory consolidation, enhance creativity, help improve your mood, and support more sophisticated thinking skills (like planning, organizing, and analyzing). You may also reduce sleep inertia upon waking, as it's more likely you'll awaken during lighter sleep stages. 

Drawbacks: Napping for this long during the day may interfere with nighttime sleep. 90-minute naps may also be more suitable for weekends or days off due to their length. It's essential to consider your overall sleep schedule and needs when opting for full sleep cycle naps.

Can you nap for too long?

Yes, you can nap for too long. While napping is generally beneficial, it’s possible to get too much of a good thing. 

Long naps can decrease the much-needed sleep pressure for nighttime sleep, reducing nighttime sleep efficiency (the amount of time you spend in bed actually asleep). 

Therefore, we recommend not exceeding a 90-minute nap. This will give you the best chance of cycling through all stages of sleep without disrupting your nighttime sleep.

How Long Should I Nap For?

Here’s how to customize the best nap length for you.

RISE app screenshot showing how much sleep debt you have
The RISE app can work out how much sleep debt you have. Naps can help you pay it back.

Consider your individual sleep needs

We all have a unique sleep need, or an amount of sleep we need each night. This is determined by genetics — just like height and eye color — and it’s not simply eight hours for everyone

One study suggests the average sleep need is 8 hours 40 minutes, plus or minus 10 minutes or so, but 13.5% of the population may need 9 hours or more sleep a night.

When we don’t meet our sleep need we build up sleep debt. Sleep debt is the running total of how much sleep you owe your body. It’s compared against your sleep need. Here at RISE, we measure it over your last 14 nights. 

Naps are an effective way to pay back sleep debt (via so-called “replacement” napping, see more below) as well as protect against the negative effects of sleep loss if you know you have to be up late or get up early the next morning ("prophylactic" napping). 

Consider a longer 60- or 90-minute nap if you have more than 5 hours of sleep debt to pay back. You can also catch up on lost sleep by going to bed a little earlier, waking up a little later, and improving your sleep hygiene, which will help you fall asleep faster and wake up less often during the night. 

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to view their sleep need and here to view their sleep debt.

Consider your nap goals 

When determining the best nap length, consider your goals. You might need a replacement nap if you didn't get enough sleep last night, a prophylactic nap to prepare for a late night, or an "appetitive" nap to refresh yourself even when you’re not sleep-deprived.

Here's what sleep research says about these three types of naps:

Consider your sleepability skills

Do you struggle with napping? It may be a sign of low sleepability, or how easily you can nap even when well-rested. Research has found some people have high sleepability without sleepiness, making them good nappers even when not sleep-deprived. 

If you have trouble napping, add some buffer time for sleep latency, the time it takes to fall asleep, to ensure you get the most out of your nap. For example, if you want to take a 20-minute nap but know that you roughly need 15-30 minutes to doze off, free up 35-50 minutes in your schedule to make time for your siesta.

Consider your lifestyle and work schedule

Your daily routine, work schedule, and personal commitments can significantly impact your ability to fit naps into your day. Consider your lifestyle when deciding on the best nap length for you. For example, if you have a demanding job with limited break times, a shorter power nap may be more feasible, while those with more flexible schedules may benefit from longer naps.

Experiment with nap durations to find the best nap length for you

To find the best nap length for you, consider experimenting with different nap durations and assessing their effects on your energy, mood, and cognitive performance. 

Keep a nap journal or use the RISE app to track the length and timing of your naps, as well as any observed benefits or drawbacks. Over time, you may identify a nap length that works best for your unique needs and helps you achieve your desired outcomes. Remember, though, that the timing of your nap can also play a crucial role in its effectiveness, so be sure to consider both factors when customizing your nap length (we cover nap timing next).

{{ cta }}

What’s the Best Time of Day for a Nap?

RISE app screenshot showing energy peak and dips
The RISE app predicts the timing of your afternoon energy dip each day. This is the best time for a nap. 

As we’ve mentioned, different nap lengths have varying benefits in terms of mood, alertness, and performance. But you may be surprised to learn there is a wrong way to nap. Nap timing may be even more crucial than the length of your nap — you don’t want to nap too late in the day and have trouble falling asleep at night.

Align your naps with your circadian rhythm 

To avoid trouble sleeping at night, we recommend napping no later than during the afternoon dip of your circadian rhythm, which occurs for many of us between 1-3 PM.

Your circadian rhythm is a roughly 24-hour internal clock that regulates various biological processes, including sleep and wakefulness. It is influenced by external factors such as light and temperature. 

By aligning your naps with the dip of your circadian rhythm, you can take advantage of the window of time when your daytime sleep latency is at its lowest and your daytime sleepiness is at its highest. This will make it much easier to nod off and will optimize the restorative benefits of napping while minimizing sleep inertia and disruptions to nighttime sleep. 

The exact timing of your afternoon dip is unique to you and can change from day to day. It depends on the timing of your sleep cycle and your recent light exposure as well as your chronotype (morning or evening preference). Morning types usually experience a more pronounced energy dip from noon to early afternoon. Night owls, on the other hand, may only feel the lull from mid-afternoon onward.

High sleep debt will make you feel drowsier than usual, and encourage an earlier nap time. 

Find your personal nap window 

While general guidelines suggest that early afternoon naps are optimal for most people, individual differences in sleep needs, daily schedules, and chronotypes should be considered when determining your personal nap window. 

To find your ideal nap time, pay attention to your energy levels throughout the day and identify periods of drowsiness or fatigue. Experiment with napping during these times to see how it affects your alertness and nighttime sleep quality, then adjust accordingly to find the best nap timing for you.

The RISE app can help you decide the best time for a nap. It shows you the timing of your afternoon dip and can also sync with your calendar to show you the best time to nap based on your commitments and energy schedule. Don’t have time for a nap? RISE can also tell you when you can schedule other energy-boosting activities like getting some natural light or going for a walk. 

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to see their circadian rhythm on the Energy screen. 

Learn more about how to beat the afternoon slump here.

{{ cta-mini }}

Keep in mind sleep inertia and its impact 

Sleep inertia, the groggy and disoriented feeling upon waking, should be considered when deciding nap duration, particularly during the workday. Napping for too long can exacerbate sleep inertia, negatively impacting productivity and alertness upon returning to work-related tasks.

The duration of sleep inertia can vary, but it typically clears within 15 to 30 minutes after waking up from a nap. Factors such as sleep deprivation, nap duration, and individual differences can influence the time it takes for sleep inertia to dissipate.

To ensure sleep inertia has passed before an important commitment or activity, schedule a 30-minute buffer after waking up from a nap. This buffer period allows for the grogginess and disorientation associated with sleep inertia to dissipate, ensuring you can fully focus and engage in the upcoming task or event.

Is Napping Good for You?

Naps are good for you. They can improve everything from your mood to your productivity, and they even have health benefits. 

Napping is an effective way to pay down sleep debt during the day, if going to bed early or sleeping in isn’t in the cards. After all, it's essential to avoid the consequences of sleep deprivation, such as digestive issues, weight gain and metabolic disorders, sexual dysfunction, premature aging, and an increased risk of heart disease over time.

Well-timed afternoon naps also help counter fatigue at work, in school, and in other daily activities. Crucially, naps enhance alertness, which can be life-saving – one study found that napping before a night shift could reduce car accidents by up to 48%.  

Napping also provides several mental and emotional boosts in the form of: 

We dive deeper into the benefits of naps here.

Heads up: Sleep experts recommend avoiding naps if you have insomnia, you’re adjusting to jet lag or shift work, or if you’re trying to move your sleep schedule to an earlier time. Night-time sleep is hard enough in these cases without the risk of a nap making you feel less tired by bedtime. If you suffer from a sleep disorder, speak with a medical professional to find the best treatment options for you.

Can Naps Replace Sleeping at Night?

Naps can help pay down sleep debt, amp up alertness and focus, or refresh you during a particularly long day. But that’s not to say you should ditch nighttime sleep in favor of afternoon naps. 

Naps may help relieve some sleep pressure (the urge to sleep that builds over the course of the day, helping you fall asleep at night), but they won’t relieve all of it due to a nap’s shorter time frame compared to a full night’s sleep. Research confirms that multiple daytime naps aren’t as effective as dissipating sleep pressure as nighttime sleep. Additionally, research shows napping may not help you recover much if you’re already quite sleep-deprived

And to reiterate our earlier point on diminishing sleep pressure, you don’t want to nap too late or too long at the risk of not being sleepy enough at your regular bedtime. 

Instead, consider napping as a complementary activity to nighttime sleep in order to get enough sleep. Where naturalistic, healthy sleep is necessary for the bulk of your sleep need, your daytime nap acts as a safety net for catching up on sleep debt.

How Can I Get the Most Out of a Nap?

Even when you know the perfect length and time for a nap, there are few other things to consider when sleeping during the day

Here’s how to have the perfect nap: 

1. Create a comfortable sleep environment

To get the most out of your nap, ensure that your napping space is cool, dark, and quiet (just like you would for nighttime sleep). Dim the lights or use an eye mask to block out light, and consider using noise-blocking earplugs or a white noise machine to minimize noise distractions. Make sure the room temperature is between 65 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit, as cooler temperatures can promote better sleep. 

2. Nap during your afternoon dip

Not only will this reduce the chances of your nap impacting your sleep at night, it’ll also free up your morning and early evening energy peaks for more demanding tasks. Check RISE to see when your peaks and dips in energy are likely to be each day.

3. Set an alarm or timer 

To avoid oversleeping and minimize sleep inertia, set a timer or alarm for your desired nap length. This will allow you to relax during your nap without worrying about waking up at the right time. Remember to factor in how long it may take you to fall asleep. A timer can also help you stay consistent with your nap durations, making it easier to assess the effectiveness of different nap lengths for your needs.

Remember to also schedule a 30-minute buffer after waking up from a nap of longer than 20 minutes. This buffer period allows for the grogginess and disorientation associated with sleep inertia to dissipate, ensuring you can fully focus and engage in an upcoming task or event. 

4. Be consistent with your nap schedule 

If possible, try to nap at the same time each day to establish a consistent nap schedule. This can help your body become accustomed to the routine, making it easier to fall asleep quickly and wake up feeling refreshed. 

Research also suggests that consistent napping confers more benefits than occasional napping. 

Consistency can also help you better assess the effectiveness of different nap lengths and optimize your nap timing for your unique needs.

5. Develop a pre-nap routine

Just as a bedtime routine can signal to your body that it's time for sleep, a pre-nap routine can help you relax and prepare for a restorative nap. Consider incorporating calming activities, such as deep breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, or gentle stretching, to help your body and mind transition into a restful state.

The RISE app has audio guides that guide you through four science-backed relaxation techniques for better sleep.

6. Limit caffeine intake before napping 

Caffeine can interfere with your ability to fall asleep and negatively affect your nap quality. To maximize the benefits of your nap, avoid consuming caffeine within a few hours before your planned nap time. 

We don’t recommend so-called "coffee naps," which involve drinking a cup of coffee immediately before a short nap of 20 minutes or less. Although the combination of caffeine plus a nap has been found to make you less sleepy than you would after just drinking a cup of coffee by itself, drinking coffee during your afternoon dip has the potential to negatively affect that night’s sleep. Because caffeine can last in your system for more than 12 hours, we recommend most people have their last cup of coffee or energy drink before noon. One study found that when caffeine was consumed six hours before bed, caffeine reduced sleep duration by more than one hour.

We answer all of your other sleep and caffeine questions here.

7. Get exposure to light when you wake up 

Expose yourself to bright light — ideally natural light — to help shake off sleep inertia. This is especially important after a longer nap, but this will help boost your alertness after a short power nap too.

8. Practice good sleep hygiene habits 

Sleep hygiene is a set of behaviors you can do throughout the day to help you get better sleep at night. It’s even more important to maintain good sleep hygiene if you’ve been napping during the day to ensure you can fall asleep by bedtime. The RISE app can tell you when to do 20+ sleep hygiene habits.

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to set up their 20+ in-app habit notifications. 

What Does a Sleep Doctor Say About the Best Nap Length?

We asked our sleep advisor and medical reviewer, Dr. Chester Wu, for his take on how to find the best nap length for you.

“Napping in the early afternoon can be a great way to catch up on sleep and give you an energy boost when your energy naturally dips. If you’re new to naps, start with a 10-15 minute nap and see how you feel. You can gradually increase your nap duration to find the length that suits you best. You may find a power nap is all you need on a weekday, while a longer 60-90 minute nap is a better fit for the weekend. To make the most of your nap, make sure your sleeping environment is just as optimal for sleep as it is at night: cool, dark, quiet, and comfortable.” Rise Science Medical Reviewer Dr. Chester Wu

Find Your Best Nap Length with RISE

The best nap length for you depends on your sleep needs, goals, and schedule. To maximize the benefits of napping, consider both nap length as well as timing. While naps can provide a valuable boost to your day, remember they should complement, not replace, a good night's sleep. By finding the right balance between nap length and timing, and ensuring you get enough sleep overall, you can unlock the full potential of napping to improve your mood, alertness, memory, and overall well-being. 

Use the RISE app to keep track of your sleep debt, determine the best time of day for your nap, optimize your sleeping environment and sleep hygiene and pinpoint the best nap length that gives you better energy all day and everyday.

Summary FAQs

How long should I nap for the most energy?

A 10-20 minute power nap is ideal for boosting energy and alertness without experiencing sleep inertia or grogginess upon waking.

Is it bad to nap for more than 30 minutes?

Napping for more than 30 minutes can lead to sleep inertia, making you feel groggy or disoriented after waking up. However, a longer nap may provide more restorative rest and improve memory consolidation.

How can I avoid feeling groggy after a nap?

To avoid grogginess, limit your nap to 10-20 minutes, and try to nap during the early afternoon when your body's natural circadian rhythm promotes alertness upon waking.

Can napping too long negatively affect nighttime sleep?

Napping for longer than 90 minutes or too close to bedtime can interfere with your ability to fall asleep at night, potentially leading to fragmented sleep or sleep debt.

What if I don't have time for a full 90-minute nap?

If you don't have time for a 90-minute nap, opt for a 10-20 minute power nap or a 60-minute nap to still gain some cognitive and restorative benefits without the time commitment.

Can napping help with sleep deprivation?

While napping can temporarily alleviate some effects of sleep deprivation, it's not a long-term solution. Prioritizing sufficient nighttime sleep is essential for overall health and well-being. The best nap length when you’re sleep deprived is as long as you have time for, up to 90 minutes. A nap longer than 90 minutes risks pushing your bedtime back and losing out on more sleep.

Try 7 days free

The power behind your next best day

RISE makes it easy to improve your sleep and daily energy to reach your potential

App store icon

Sleep Debt

View all
Try 7 days free

The power behind your next best day

RISE makes it easy to improve your sleep and daily energy to reach your potential

RISE app iconApp store icon