The scientific guide to good naps

Science keeps telling us we need more sleep than we're getting. Even people who get eight hours a night will feel better if they get ten. But if you can't do that, just take naps. Here's a guide to getting the ideal nap for your specific needs.

  1. If you just need to be more alert and focused, a 10 to 20-minute nap gives you a boost in alertness for two hours or more.

  2. If your brain isn't working and you can't think straight, a one hour nap gives you more focus and also improves memory and learning.

  3. If you need a complete reset, a 90-minute nap puts you through a full sleep cycle, which gives benefits in alertness, memory, learning, creativity, and performance.

  4. If you're not sure what you need, a 10-minute nap should be the default. It was better than five minutes, 20 minutes, or 30 minutes in a recent study.

  5. If you don't even have enough time for a nap, anything helps, even just resting your eyes for a minute. One study found that even just thinking about taking a nap reduces your blood pressure.

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