There are lots of reasons parents don’t get enough sleep, and most of them relate to juggling home, jobs and family responsibilities. We’re up early and stay up too late. There never seem to be enough hours in the day to accomplish all the necessary tasks. Add a baby to the mix and moms and dads seldom experience a full night’s sleep. 

Health experts agree that a “power nap” of only 15-30 minutes is one good answer to sleep deprivation so common in our busy lives. During sleep our brains recharge. Studies show that the brain during sleep processes and reorganizes information and is much more active on the right side than during wakefulness. Some scientists call this “mental housekeeping.” (From a sleep study done by Andrei Medvedev at Georgetown University.) 

A study done by NASA on sleepy pilots and astronauts found that naps improved their task performance scores by 34% and their alertness by as much as 100%. The increased alertness may last for several hours after a power nap. 

What are the benefits of taking a power nap during the day? It seems there are many: 

Naps protect brain circuits from overuse and overload. They can make you more productive in your work. 


Naps can improve memory. 


Many report creative ideas and new connections occur during sleep, producing better problem-solving skills. 


They make up for lost sleep at night. 


They decrease the stress hormone, cortisol, in your body, relaxing and renewing. 


Naps improve mood. They rejuvenate. 


They increase alertness and performance on tasks that require clear thinking. 


They reduce errors and accidental behavior caused by fatigue. 


How long should a power nap be? Most experts agree that a shorter nap of no longer than thirty minutes is optimal. Five or ten minutes is not enough to reap the benefits, and more than thirty minutes can cause sleep inertia, a grogginess that takes a space of time to overcome. 

Naps in the early afternoon seem to produce the best results. Morning naps come too early in the day for you to be tired enough and taking a nap too late in the day may interfere with nighttime sleep patterns. Many find that taking a nap at a regular time each day produces optimal restoration. 

There are some negatives in nap-taking. There may be a stigma attached to sleeping during the day as you may feel you’re being lazy or unproductive. However studies prove that these negative thoughts related to daytime sleep are unwarranted and that, in fact, the productivity boost is well worth the few minutes lost in sleep. 

To get the most out of your power nap you’ll want to fall asleep quickly. This is accomplished by taking your nap at a regular time, by sleeping in a comfortable bed, by reducing the light in the room and by keeping a blanket nearby as body temperatures drop during sleep. 

Stay at home parents won’t find it difficult to plan the next power nap. And many executives are finding that when they close their office door and get their short nap, the rest of their day shows increased productivity. And all of us can look forward to a power nap on the weekends. 

Go ahead, take a power nap, it’s good for you. 

Jan Pierce, M.Ed., is a retired teacher and freelance writer specializing in education, parenting and family life articles. You can find her at 

“You can get incredible benefits from 15-20 minutes of napping. You reset the system and get a burst of alertness and increased motor performance.” Sara C. Mednick, Ph.D., author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life. 


Oaklander, Mandy, The Weird Benefit of Power Naps, Prevention Magazine, January 2015. 

The National Sleep Foundation, Napping, January, 2015. 

Soong, Jennifer, The Secret (and Surprising) Power of Naps,, reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD, January 2015. 

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