Going from Zero to One Nap: The Adult Nap Transition


Adult nap | Central Mass MomOkay, while this isn’t really a thing, and not ALL adults need a nap on a regular basis, let’s talk about it. I know there are some days where I know I’m not going to make it to a reasonable bedtime. And I know plenty of other adults who take naps daily to get through the day. 

Is it worth it to take a nap?

Napping can have some great benefits! They can reduce fatigue, help with relaxation, increase performance, and help improve mood. That sounds great, but still, naps are not for everyone. Some people just have a hard time taking a nap during the day. For some, waking from a midday nap can cause them to be disoriented and groggy (which usually occurs with naps lasting over 30 minutes).

If you are experiencing fatigue or sleepiness during the day or want to make up for missed sleep, go ahead and give an early afternoon nap a try.

What is an adult “age-appropriate” schedule?

Naps for adults should be kept pretty short. Usually, 20 minutes is recommended as an ideal nap length for adults. However, depending on your situation you might need a little more than that. You don’t want to go over 60 minutes, otherwise, you are really going to mess with your overnight sleep.

How long should your nap be?

20 min: Best for a quick recharge and back to work.

26 min: “NASA nap” proven to improve pilot performance by 34%!

30 min: Causes “sleep inertia” (basically a sleep hangover)

60 min: Helps cognitive memory

In addition to the length, timing is very important. The most important thing is that the nap gives you the rest you need to power through the day without compromising your overnight sleep. Naps should occur between 1 pm and 3 pm. Too early, and it’s not going to be enough to get you to the end of your day, and too late is going to mess with bedtime!

A sample schedule for adults could look like:

6 am: Wake up

1 pm: Nap

10 pm: Bedtime

As an adult, you will want to determine bedtime on the amount of overnight sleep you need versus awake time or wake window like you would small kids. If you need a solid 8 hours of sleep to function the next day and need to be up by 6 am, then 10 pm would be your ideal bedtime. If you function better on the lower end of sleep and need to be up by 4 am to commute to work (physically or virtually), 9 pm would be a better bedtime for you.

Overnight Sleep is Still Important

You cannot sustain yourself on naps. It’s still important to get restful, restorative overnight sleep. Make sure that you are doing what you can to increase your overnight sleep, whether or not you take a nap. Check out my guest blog post over at Live By Skin for some great information on improving your own sleep.

If you are noting an increase in a need for naps during the day, and/or a decline in quality/quantity of overnight sleep, and there is no discernible cause, make sure you reach out to your primary care physician. 



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