Today is Sleep Awareness Day - and experts say the best time to nap is lunchtime

Napping can have surprising health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure as well as helping you feel more alert and recharged.

Thursday, 12th March 2020, 11:51 am

But how long is the perfect nap so you're not left feeling groggy?

Today is Sleep Awareness Day (March 12) and sleep experts have revealed, once and for all, the optimum time, and it turns out we’ve been doing it wrong.

We nap on average three times a week, with the average length 35 minutes, according to research by sofa and carpet specialist, ScS.

Napping can have surprising health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure as well as helping you feel more alert and recharged.

However, Lisa Artis, Sleep Adviser at the Sleep Council, explain why this is too long.

She said: “A power nap of 20 to 30 minutes is sufficient to turn off the nervous system, recharge the whole body and improve alertness – any longer, though, is long enough to put you in a deep sleep and leave you feeling groggy when you wake.”

If napping is keeping you up at night, Lisa says it is best avoided:

“Napping is not generally encouraged as it can affect night-time sleep. If you regularly experience insomnia or poor sleep at night, napping can make this worse.

"However, if you haven’t slept well, or are feeling fatigued, a short kip can give you as much energy as two cups of strong coffee, but with longer lasting effects.”

The research also revealed that men are twice as likely to have a daytime doze at least once every day (13% vs 6%), whilst a quarter of women say they never nap (25%) compared to 16% of men.

Where you choose to take a nap doesn’t matter too much according to Lisa, as long as it's comfortable.

She said: “It’s important to make sure you have a restful place to lie down and you also need to create a restful environment, one that’s quiet, cool and dark so that you fall asleep faster.”

“The post lunch lull, between 1pm-3pm, is the best time to nap. It’s when our sleep urge has a peak and our sleep needs start to increase. Napping too late in the day, even as early as 4pm can impact night time sleep.”

Fve top tips on the perfect nap:

Aim to only sleep for 20-30 minutes

Use an eye mask and earplugs to block out light and noise which stops us sleeping

Napping is best after lunch between 1pm and 3pm

Make sure you’re in a comfortable and restful place

If you’re feeling tired, but can’t get to sleep, use the time to relax instead, which can be just as restful

Dale Gillespie, Head of Acquisition at ScS, said: “Who doesn’t love a power nap?

"Sometimes it’s just what you need to refuel for the rest of the day, but keep in mind that the ideal nap time is 35 minutes, resting for too long could do more harm than good! Follow these top tips to ensure that you have the perfect nap every time.”

For more of the research findings, please visit: https://www.scs.co.uk/lifestyle/theperfectnap