4 types of naps and when to take each

I count myself lucky, because I think in my past 3 years of engineering school, I only remember 3 or 4 times where I stayed up all night doing schoolwork.  I’ve known people who’ve stayed up all night 30+ in a semester, and I’ve known some who always go to bed at 10PM every night with a clear, no-homework-left conscience.  I’m sympathetic to the first and envious of the second.

College, and particularly finals week, is perhaps one of the most sleep deprived episodes of someone’s twenties (except maybe when you get a job with unreasonable deadlines, have a baby, or watch The Conjuring too many times).  At the risk of sounding like my dad, though, sleep is probably the most important component of your finals week prepping.  When you sleep, you’re forming long-term memories from your short term.   You’re rejuvenating your brain so you can tackle problems and learn more quickly.  By letting your body rest, you’re letting yourself prepare properly for the next day.

But, sometimes we can’t get 8 hours a night.  Sometimes we can’t even get 5.  I totally get it.

And that’s where napping comes in.

I saw this cool infographic about the different kinds of naps and found it insightful. Here are the 4 types of naps that’ll benefit you during finals season:

  1. 10-20 minutes: it’s often dubbed the “power nap.”  According to researchers, it can help with energy and alertness, because you’re in a lighter sleep, which is easier to wake up from (you start feeling groggy once you wake up during deep sleep).
  2. 30 minutes:  this is when you start falling into a little deeper of a sleep.  Apparently, along with the benefits of a 20 minute nap, 30 minutes can help to clear your mind.
  3. 60 minutes: now we’re hitting REM sleep.  This is the rejuvenating part of sleep, and it’s the part you need to feel well-rested in the longterm.  For example, have you ever known someone who suffers from sleep apnea who complains of tiredness?  When you’re waking up in the middle of the night constantly due to snoring, you’re not letting your body go head-first into the REM sleep it needs.  A 60 minute nap does everything that a 30 minute nap does, but scientists believe it also increases our creativity.
  4. 90 minutes:  this is apparently the “perfect nap,” because it goes through one complete sleep cycle.  Depending on how much you sleep every night, your body goes through about 4-6 complete cycles every night.  Even though it’s just one cycle, it’s giving you the maximum brain benefit of all the naps, because it’s not waking you up before you’re body’s ready.

So, bottom line, if you want the most out of your nap, try and carve out an hour and a half from your study time.  But, if the length of a Youtube video is all you can spare, you’re still going to benefit from it! 🙂

Happy studying,


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