Do You Need a Power Nap?

power nap

Written by Dr. Paul Kelly, C.Psych.              April 02, 2024

Are you missing out on a great brain booster?

The Power Nap.

People who haven’t tried it don’t know what they are missing.

Learn how to use it to meet your goals and needs.


Table of Contents


Benefits of Power Napping

A power nap can refresh your brain and restore your body. Napping works. Here are the benefits of napping:

  1. Boosts Memory and Learning: Napping can improve your memory. After a nap, you will remember more of what you’ve learned. If you have an afternoon exam, it would usually be better to take a 20-minute nap rather than study for the extra time.
  2. Increases Alertness and Productivity: A quick nap can restore alertness. Your brain will work better, and you can get more done. I know this from personal experience and there is lots of research to back it up.
  3. Boosts Creativity: Even a short nap will refresh your brain and help clear away mental junk. A 90-minute nap gives the biggest creativity boost.
  4. Enhances Mood: A power nap will help you feel fresh and more at ease. If you are feeling irritable, a short nap can really help.
  5. Improves Physical Health: Daily short naps enhance immune function, lower blood pressure, and improve heart health.


How Many People Naps?

Napping is very human. Toddlers all over the world do it. Power napping is good for developing brains.

toddlers having a nap


Napping is also great for adult brains like ours. That’s probably why 30% of adults in North America and China take power naps.

In Mediterranean countries, 30-60% of adults in Spain, Italy, and Greece benefit from a nap or siesta.

Japan has a special word for napping in public places. They call it ‘inemuri.’ Up to 65% of adults in Japan nap.


Japanese power nap


How Long to Nap?

Most people nap for 20-30 minutes. I set my timer for 35 minutes. Here are some guidelines to help you decide what would be best for you.

  1. 5-10 Minutes: This is a brief recharge. It can help more that you expect, just to reset your brain.
  2. 20-30 Minutes: This nap will push the reset button on your alertness, and it will clear your mind of worries and mental junk.
  3. 60 Minutes: This nap can be very refreshing for your body, and it can improve your memory.
  4. 90 Minutes: This nap gives you a full REM cycle, so you can have a dream while you nap. It can give you a significant creativity boost. It is also good for putting new memories into long-term memory storage.

So, what length of nap is best for you? It depends on your goals and on how much control you have over your schedule. I usually take a 35-minute nap after lunch.

I will also nap for 60 minutes if I have to catch up after a poor night’s sleep. Give yourself permission to try a 20-minute power nap. Your brain will thank you.

people napping


More Helpful Tips about Power Nap

  1. Watch for Sleep Inertia: You will probably feel groggy after a 60-minute nap. This is called sleep inertia. Make sure you have 10 or 15 minutes to finish waking up after a one-hour nap before you have to do anything important.
  2. Set a Consistent Schedule:  Try to nap at the same time each day, including weekends, and for the same amount of time. This consistency helps your brain get used to napping, and your naps will be more effective. It is best to nap in the early afternoon. If you nap after 3:00 PM, it will affect your night’s sleep.
  3. Find a Comfortable Spot: If possible, use the same place each day for your nap. I used an eye mask during the day to block light. Would you need one?
  4. Set a Timer: Use an alarm. Then, you can trust that you will wake up in time for your next activity and will not feel groggy because the nap lasted too long.
  5. Turn Off Your Phone: Your nap will be deeper if your phone is off. If you need to use your phone as a timer, set it on airplane mode.
  6. Do You Have a Sleep Disorder? If you are constantly tired during the day, you may have a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea. Talk to your physician if you have any concerns.


A Personal Note

I learned about naps from my grandfather, Jim Kelly. He always took a half-hour nap after lunch. When I was in my early teens, I spent summers helping him on the farm. He was a vigorous man in his 70s. He did the farm work with horses. I felt proud that he trusted me to take the horses out to plow in the potato patch or to cut and rake hay. I still remember how the horses would speed up on their way back to the barn at the end of the workday. After they were in their stalls, I gave them hay and took off their harnesses. I was barely strong enough to lift the harnesses and hang them on the wall pegs. But I was grateful I could do something to help my grandfather. He was very good to me.

Now, I am in my 70s and my life is very different from my grandfather’s, with one exception. I also take a nap after lunch. Power naps restores my energy, focus, and mental clarity. Will you give naps a try for yourself? My grandfather would approve. He believed in hard work, but he also understood the wisdom of rest time.



It is important to me that I give you practical and trustworthy information. That is why I personally selected and reviewed all the sources for this article. My advice is also based on my experience with napping and on my decades of experience helping therapists and clients learn about the benefits of napping. We track progress at The Mindfulness Clinic, so I know these nap techniques can help.

  • Mednick, Sara C., & Ehrman, Mark. Take a Nap! Change your life. Workman Publishing. 2006
  • Mednick, Sara C. The Power of the Downstate: Recharge your life using your body’s own restorative systems. Hachette Books, 2022.
  • Soojung-Kim Pang, Alex. Rest: Why you get more done when you work less. Basic Books, 2016.
  • Brooks, A. & Lack, L. A brief afternoon nap following nocturnal sleep restriction: Which nap duration is most recuperative? Sleep, Vol. 29, No. 6, 2006. Retrieved from:
  • Taub, J.M. Effects of daytime naps on performance and mood in a college student population. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Vol. 85, No. 2, 210-217, 1976. Retrieved from:
  • Sakai, A., Kawamoto, N., & Hayashi, M. (2023). Effects of short naps during simulated night shifts on alertness and cognitive performance in young adults. Journal of Sleep Research, 32(5), 1-10. Retrieved from
  • Yun, M., & Beehr, T. (2023). Eating versus sleeping: Lunchtime meals and naps relation to afternoon creativity at work. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. Retrieved from: