Science behind naps

Before coming to college, I rarely took naps. Now they are sometimes essential throughout the week. Whether its following a big test, a long night out, or just a crappy nights sleep, I find myself needing a nap AT LEAST once a week. Now, of course this isn’t a great habit, I wanted to see the effects of the duration of my naps. Some days I nap for 30 minutes to an hour. While other times I nap for well over 2 hours. I guess this mostly depends on the day.

Last year as a freshman there was a sign about napping, which I found funny. Who needs information about napping? Whats the big deal?  After looking into it some more I found some information on optimal nap duration. Each allotted duration of your nap can help or hinder a specific aspect with regards to your brain.


Picture found here.

For example according to this site; there are signifiant difference in the effects according to the duration of your naps. To overall reboot your energy, they say to take a power nap between 10-20 minutes. A 30 minute nap will leave you feeling groggy or cloudy, an additional 30 minutes of exhaustion following your nap will pass before you feel the benefits of your nap. When you nap for an hour studies show that it will aid in your memory to retain information; but this groggy feeling will also be prevalent following this one hour nap. During a 90 minute nap you will go though one sleep cycle. This will have the groggy feeling avoided completely. 

According to this article

There IS a science behind napping. Napping can be beneficial in the way that it helps you stay mentally sharp and overall live a healthy life. Now we know they can recharge your energy meter but how much can a nap really do for your brain.

While researching this topic I found so much different information regarding naps, It has been found that a 90 minute nap will improve learning all day. How? I did not understand how this could be possible.

This site reflects on a study done in attempts to prove this claim true. They took 39 young adults and broke them into two groups. Both groups performed rigorous educational tasks that were targeted to tire out the hippocampus. After this task, one group took a 90 minute nap where as the others stayed awake. Following the nap, all participants were then again asked to attempt vigorous learning tasks. The participants who remained awake become less successful than of those who did have the opportunity to nap.

The bottom line is naps seem to effect your brain and body in different ways, but overall it has been found that the hypothesis of napping for 90 minutes will increase your learning abilities has been accepted whereas the null hypothesis has been rejected. Or, this could very well be a false positive.

2 thoughts on “Science behind naps

  1. Olivia Frederickson

    I myself find that I need to nap sometimes too, although I don’t know why you’d say is is a bad habit to at least once a week? According to The National Sleep Foundation, they say that taking a 20-30 minute nap can help you become more alert if you are sleep deprived. So really, this isn’t a bad habit and should actually be utilized if you have a spare 30 minutes of the day to re-energize and take a nap. With identifying this, you need to ask a question to lead your research because your research has no lead to it right now. Your research is driven by the science of naps, but what about naps? Like I found before, you could ask are they good or bad? Then you could identify through further researched studies how are they good? How are they bad? There are so many different paths to take when researching a broad topic and all you have to start with is a question and a well-conducted study. I found a source to help you find a more defined, possible hypothesisin this study. Since we found napping is a positive rather than a negative, this study looks at the possibilities of a positive effect of enhancing declarative memories in young adults. Although the study is long and very science heavy, all you need to do is record the basics of the experiment and its results while applying your own input into this information such as terms we learned in class like the null/alternative hypotheses. These are my suggestions to you to hopefully create more direction for furture blogs.

  2. Patrick James Mcgovern

    Thanks for writing this, I have been taking naps frequently since arriving this fall for my first semester here, and it’s nice to have more information on how long they should be.

    What I’m wondering is can napping too often be harmful? How would I know if I were doing it too much and has this been tested. I fee like there could be different mental and physical effects in relation to sleeping in small amounts for a long time. I hate getting up from a nap and feeling like so much time has been wasted and I won’t wake up unless I sleep more, but maybe it’s from doing it a lot overall. Stress must add a whole other level to this, extending the need for rest and escape. Here’s a link I really enjoyed that gives more insight on the benefits of napping.

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