Babies get away with two or even three of these in a day. But what about you? Does it make you a lazy person for wanting to nap?
“As long as you average about eight hours of sleep per 24 hours and a nap doesn’t interfere with your nighttime sleep, then go for it,” says Gharib.
But like other aspects of sleep that are unique to the individual (pillow preference, anyone?), napping is too. Some swear by a short afternoon nap whereas others are left groggy and confused.
Sleeping used to be different
Most people accomplish the majority of their sleep at night. It’s just the way the world is set up now, says Gharib.
It wasn’t always this way.
Historical data suggests that prior to the Industrial Revolution, nighttime sleep was often accomplished in two separate chunks of time. There was a first sleep, an interlude of an hour or two, and then a second sleep, says Gharib.
This kind of sleep is known as bi-phasic sleep. It was as the Industrial Revolution unfolded that attitudes toward sleep shifted in favor of eight hours of consolidated sleep over the bi-phasic sleep pattern.
As long as you have a period of sleep that lasts from three to four hours, then this kind of bi-phasic sleeping is fine. But if for some reason your nighttime sleep duration is not long enough, a nap can help add that extra time that you missed the night before, says Gharib.
Is there an ideal length of time to nap?
Ideal nap length, just like ideal sleep time, varies from person to person, says Gharib. But keeping your nap to an hour or less is a good rule of thumb.
That’s because if you sleep an hour or less, you won’t sleep long enough to reach the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep—the deepest part of your sleep cycle. Getting REM sleep in the afternoon could disrupt your nighttime sleep routine. And some people experience confusion, grogginess and a sense of feeling even more tired when woken from REM sleep.
“Sleeping an hour or less is an easy way to avoid these potential complications,” says Gharib.