British Columbia

A sleep expert's tips on taking your best nap

Take a nap if you need it, but make sure you sleep just long enough to get through part of a sleep cycle, otherwise you might be groggy afterwards, says UBC nursing professor Wendy Hall.

UBC's Wendy Hall says it's important naps aren't too short, or too long

Young person with long hair lying facedown on a bed, asleep.
Find some place comfy and take a nap if you need it, but make sure you sleep just long enough to get through part of a sleep cycle, otherwise you will be too groggy afterwards, says UBC nursing professor Wendy Hall. (Getty Images/Hero Images)

If it's that time of day where your eyelids are getting heavy, try taking a nap — but don't sleep too long, says a UBC nursing professor.

"You do need to have enough time that you can get through part of a sleep cycle," said Wendy Hall, who researches sleep issues in children.

"You don't want too short a nap. Some people say they can power nap for 10 minutes and that can take them through the rest of the day. Possibly, but a longer nap will certainly do you more good."

Despite encouraging people to take longer naps, Hall said there's a limit.

"You really wouldn't want to make it more than 40 minutes because then you could easily get into a deep sleep and have difficulty rousing yourself and getting on with your day."

Get your 8 hours

The sleep expert said it is also important to get enough rest every night instead of relying on naps.

"We don't want to have accidents on the road or accidents at work because we are actually sleep-deprived," she said.

"I think if more people were getting eight hours of sleep a night we might not need naps so much."

However Hall added she understands that getting eight hours a night can be a challenge — because of long commutes, shift work, family circumstances and other factors.

"If you have a two-hour commute to get home, and you're going to be driving and you're very very fatigued it's a good idea to try and plan for that brief nap in the afternoon to try and recharge your batteries so that you're wide awake at the wheel and there's no risk of falling asleep."

If you are going to to get some shut-eye, she recommends seeking out a comfy spot.

"It's better if you don't fall asleep in your chair in front of your computer, because it's not very good for your neck or your shoulders or any other body parts."

To hear the full story listen to the audio labelled: UBC Nursing professor says napping can be effective, but says daily adequate sleep is important


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