The Zoomer Report: Ideal Nap Length

What’s the ideal length of time for a nap?

After those cases of air traffic controllers falling asleep on the job, the National Transportation Safety Board called for “controlled naps” to be built into night shifts.

Experts at the agency say a 26-minute nap would improve performance by a third and increase alertness by more than half. But other sleep specialists say 26 minutes is too long because you could fall into a deep sleep. The British Sleep Research Council recommends having a cup of coffee before a nap. The caffeine takes about 20 minutes to kick in. That’s what these experts consider the best nap length. The java jolt will help you wake up at that time and be more alert.

The caveat is if you haven’t had a wink of sleep the night before, this won’t be enough to refresh you. If you’ve had merely a poor night’s sleep, it will work.

The timing of the nap is also important. Too early and your body may not be ready to sleep yet, but a nap that is too late in the day might make it harder to fall asleep come bedtime.

The consensus is early afternoon is often the best time, between 1-3pm, when many people experience a post-lunch dip in energy.

Photo © iofoto

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Libby ZnaimerAbout The Zoomer Report

Libby Znaimer, a prominent Canadian journalist specializing in business, politics, and lifestyle issues, is producer and host of The Zoomer Report, a special feature on topics of interest to baby boomers and the 50+. It covers everything from health and wealth to leisure and volunteerism, from the special vantage point of the generation that has changed society in its wake.

Ms. Znaimer is also Vice-President of News and Information for Classical 96.3FM and AM740. Her first book, “In Cancerland – Living Well Is The Best Revenge” – was published in October 2007 by Key Porter.

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