Chapter 4 - Napping

Learning Outcomes

After reading through this chapter, you should be able to:

  • Discuss the benefits of napping.
  • Describe the short-term way that sleep inertia may compromise the benefits of a nap.

The benefits of napping

Short sleeps or naps can deliver most of the benefits of longer sleeps over a shorter time frame. These benefits can include improved short-term memory, increased performance, improved alertness, and improved reaction time. But the benefits of naps do not generally last as long as the benefits gained from longer sleeps.

Naps as short as 10 or 15 minutes can deliver measurable benefits. In general, the longer the nap is, the more beneficial it will be in terms of recovery and improvements in performance.

Some research suggests that the time of day you take a nap also affects its recovery value. Other research suggests that this is not the case and that getting any sleep is much more important than the time the nap is taken. Take naps in the way that you believe best suits you. Keep in mind that a nap can negatively affect your chances of sleeping later that day or night.


Is napping permitted in your workplace? If yes, under what circumstances?


Is napping a strategy that you could benefit from? If so, how could you apply it?


Sleep inertia

While both long sleep periods and napping are highly beneficial for a wide range of reasons, it is important to understand that your performance and alertness may be impaired for a while after you wake up. Most people experience a period of confusion when they wake or are awakened from sleep. This state is known as sleep inertia and generally lasts between five and 20 minutes. You should minimize activities that would be sensitive to sleep inertia (such as driving) for 20 minutes after waking up.

Exactly how long sleep inertia lasts depends on a number of factors. There isno effective way to eliminate or reduce the effects of sleep inertia. Sleep inertia tends to last longer when you:

  • are woken up as opposed to waking naturally from sleep
  • wake up or are woken up from deep sleep compared to light sleep – this is more common following longer sleeps than shorter naps
  • wake up or are woken up at the low point of the circadian rhythm (generally between midnight and 6 a.m.)
  • wake up or are woken up after a nap following a period of sleep deprivation


checkmark Knowledge Check

  • Explain what sleep inertia is.
  • Name two benefits of napping.
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