What’s the Best Time to Take a Nap?

I’m often asked

  1. how to take a nap during the day,
  2. how long should that nap be for (i.e. the duration of the nap), and
  3. what’s the best time to take a nap?

Here’s the answer to question 3.

One of my favourite experts on napping is Dr Sara Mednick, and I’ve just discovered that she has her famous Nap Wheel (previously only available on the front cover of her book) on her website, which is really cool.

So now you can easily work out when to take your nap for the best advantages of alertness, memory integration, improved motor skills, greater executive function of your brain, mood enhancement and numerous health benefits.

Dr Mednick suggests that the best time to take your nap is when you are having a ‘down’ point in your day, which might be the time when you’re tempted to go and get a coffee at work, or you’re losing concentration, or you start fazing out, or even making errors.   In some cases you might even want to fall asleep, of course.

These low periods usually happen after we have been awake for a certain number of hours, and our concentration seems to lapse.  In fact Dr Mednick suggests using your wake up time to help you decide the best time to take a nap.

Here’s how to work out what’s the best time to take a nap:

  • Using Dr Mednick’s wheel, use the curser on your computer to move the red dial on her Nap Wheel to the exact time that you wake up in the morning (or afternoon/night, if you are a shift-worker)
  • You will find the Nap Wheel on the right hand side of this page:  http://www.takeanap.info/
  • Moving clockwise around the wheel/times take note of where the yellow circle intersects the blue circle – and note the time that corresponds to that point of overlap.  e.g. if your wake up time is 7.00 am, the 2 circles intersect at approximately 1.45 pm (or 13:45).
  • The time that you just calculated using the Nap Wheel is the best time to start your nap.

 Take-a-Nap

If you would like to hear a short interview with Dr Mednick you will find one here:  https://growingbolder.com/media/entertainment/books/sara-mednick-769.html

You will notice in this interview that Dr Mednick talks about a 90 minute nap – which is her preferred duration of a nap – but in her book she states that we can derive benefits from a nap of 6 minutes duration or more.

And more information about Dr Sara Mednick’s work can be found here:  https://www.sleeplessnomore.com/napping/

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