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Nap Well

Napping as a Sleep Strategy (1:03)

Daniel Cohen, MD, MMSc, formerly of Harvard, tells how to make naps part of your sleep plans.

Even short naps—20 to 30 minutes—can help restore alertness, enhance performance, boost concentration, improve reaction time, and benefit manual dexterity. Take advantage of nap opportunities when you can. 

Try to avoid sleep inertia. After awakening from deeper stages of sleep, people often feel both mentally groggy and clumsy. This sensation, called sleep inertia, usually lasts about 15 to 30 minutes, but sometimes lasts longer.

If you need to work or drive soon after you awaken, sleep inertia could put you at risk of being injured or making poor decisions. 

Consider post-nap activities before you snooze. Adjust nap length accordingly. If you do not have a serious sleep debt, you probably will not feel foggy when you wake up. If you do feel groggy when you awaken, however, drink a caffeinated beverage, or chew a piece of caffeinated gum to help restore your alertness. Don’t return to work or drive until you feel mentally and physically ready to do so.

Note: Not all railroads approve on-duty napping. Check with your supervisor.