The Power Nap

Anyone have any insight as to why, almost without exception, a mid-afternoon nap will result in one’s awakening automatically after 10-20 minutes, feeling quite refreshed? I’ve confirmed this with others, and it appears to be the norm. Something survival-related, by design perhaps?

I took a class on human factors in flight in college. We were told that diurnal biorhythms bottom out in the mid-afternoon.

This article seems to suggest that maybe we were meant to sleep in the afternoons in order to get out of the sun. It seems we are naturally primed for a nap around the middle of the afternoon, so maybe that’s why it’s easy to take a quick one and then bounce back.

My own experience has shown that it does me a world of good to nod for about 10-15 minutes around 3 pm or so.

I have long maintained that humans are the only mammal that sleeps all at once, instead of in shifts. I haven’t been able to prove this though. In the past, my pets sleep some, play some, sleep some, play some (I currently have no pets). But I’ve wondered what it is like for animals in the while. Are there any other animals that sleep for X hours and then stay away the rest of the day? Anyway, I think we would all be better off if we slept a little, worked a little. Of course that is an opinion, and not based on science.

That whole waking up after 15 minutes doesn’t work for me. I often take an afternoon nap, but frequently (~40%) sleep for 3 hours. I have to set an alarm.

There’s at least one exception. I’m willing to bet I’m not the only one either.

My nap would always last 1 1/2- 2 hours. I wake up feeling much worse. (exception is when i’m dreadfully sick, and such stretch of nap time makes me feel better). Although it maybe due to me being a light, unrestful sleeper.

I know horses takenaps a lot.

Power naps work very well for me, particularly in the aforementioned post-lunch drowsiness of the early-mid afternoon. Fifteen minutes of drooling onto my desk and I’m ready to go.

I generally get very vivid dreams during these naps, too. I wonder if I remember them more because I’m asleep for such a short period of time compared to at night.


Ditto this as well. I have never been able to nap naturally, or for short periods of time like other people do. When I “nap” I’m usually just resting with my eyes closed, since it takes me an hour to fall asleep unless I’m sedated.

I’m exactly the same way.

I read somewhere years ago that the reason it works so well is that 10-15 minutes doesn’t give your body enough time to get in to REM mode. According to the article, waking up during REM sleep is what makes you feel worse rather then better.

I’ve never naturally taken such short naps, but I find that no matter what time of day I snooze, if I go to sleep when I’m naturally falling asleep, I sleep a much shorter time and wake up much more refreshed than if I arbitrarily go to bed at a specific time.

Hmm…then why my vivid dreams during power napping? I wonder if I’m not sleep-deprived and therefore not getting enough REM sleep during normal sleeping hours and my brain is “catching up” by infusing my powernap sleep with REM visuals…

I do too and my sense of time gets wildly distorted. I wake up every few minutes after having a full-fledged dream that should have taken much more time in real-time yet it was really five minutes or less. I can go through many such dreams in half an hour and it seems like the longest lunch hour ever.