You probably know that the simple act of napping is full of health benefits. It can help you feel recharged, boost your mood, reduce stress, and more. While napping is something that everyone has done since they were babies, there’s actually an art to it. To do it right, don’t sleep for too long (20- to 30-minute naps are often best), and be sure that you nap at the right time of day.
The best hour for most people to nap is between 2:00pm and 3:00pm. That’s because you’ve already eaten lunch and your blood sugar and energy levels will naturally start to dip. In fact, your body clock is often programmed to make you feel a little sleepy in the middle of the afternoon. If you try to nap earlier, your body might not actually be ready for more sleep.
A mid-afternoon nap also needs to happen early enough so that it doesn’t interfere with your ability to fall asleep that night. At the very least, try to make sure that you wake up no less than three hours before your bedtime (so if you like to go to bed at 9:30pm, the absolute latest you would want to wake up from a nap is 6:30pm). That said, everyone’s schedules are unique, so you might need to nap earlier or later, depending on your lifestyle. If you have odd work or meal hours or you are a natural night owl or early bird, you may prefer to nap earlier or later.
One of the best ways to pick your optimal nap time is to base it on the hour that you wake up. For instance, if you wake up at 7:00am, then your ideal nap time is 2:00pm. A 6:00am wake-up means that you should nap around 1:30pm and a 7:30am wake-up call should lead to a 2:30pm nap.