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The Best Length for a Nap

By Jessica Boden
Posted On Aug 09, 2011

A recent visit to the website of anti-aging maven Suzanne Somers reveals something called her NAP26 program, which is supposed to give you the rest and rejuvenation of a 3-hour sleep in 26 minutes. According to her site, NASA research on test pilots revealed that 26-minute naps are optimal, improving performance by 34% and alertness by 54%. Actually, NASA has commissioned nap research for years, including the 1995 study that came up with Somer’s 26-minute time line, and has confirmed that naps of between 15 and 30 minutes are the best. Anything more than that and the sleeper drifts into deeper sleep that can leave them feeling groggy, unless they go the distance and sleep at least a full 90 minute sleep cycle. Perhaps the best nap for those wanting a real jolt awake is what’s called the “caffeine nap.” In their classic 1996 study, British researchers J.A. Horne and L.A. Reyner found that the best nap was a short one taken just after drinking coffee. Since coffee takes about 30 minutes to kick in, the sleeper awakens refreshed just in time for the caffeine kick.

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