Science Explains How Long Your Nap Should Really Be

If you've always been a big advocate for napping on the regular, you'll be well versed with the benefits of doing so. If you've never considered taking a nap during the day, though, here's what you need to know. As Alex Dimitriu, M.D., a psychiatrist and founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine, told Insider, "A short nap of 20 to 30 minutes can often be a healthy alternative to drinking more coffee." Not only can it totally refresh you, but it can also energize you and improve alertness for the remainder of the day (via Mental Floss). However, if you want to reap the benefits of napping, you really shouldn't be asleep for more than an hour.

Rafael Pelayo, a sleep specialist at the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine, explains to The Cut: "The transitional phase from being awake to being in a very deep sleep is known as intermediate sleep, and that's where you want to keep your nap — usually about 20 to 40 minutes, and probably no longer than an hour." Basically, if you sleep any longer, you'll enter into a deep sleep and that's what's going to make you feel groggy when you wake back up.

Napping should always occur between midday and 3 pm

However, it really depends on the person. Pelayo continued: "Most people aren't really sleeping the whole time they're napping — they're kind of dozing in and out. And they need some time to relax before they can drop off. So, you might need to set aside an hour if you want 40 minutes of actual sleep." Use your nap time wisely and be sure to stay away from any screens if you're serious about zoning out.

You also need to be wary about what time you choose to take a nap, as it may disrupt your sleep schedule. "You should never take a nap at any time of the day other than 12:00 to 3:00 in the afternoon," Dr. Robert Oexman, Director of The Sleep to Live Institute, told Bustle. "This coincides with the normal circadian rhythm. Napping at any other time may make it more difficult to sleep at night."