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How long should your naps be? - Sara C. Mednick

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Your eyes get heavy and gradually close... But wait! It's only lunch time and you still have so much to do. Would taking a nap help? Or would it derail your day? Well, that depends on a few things— especially what stages of sleep the nap includes. Sara C. Mednick details the cognitive benefits of napping, and explores the optimal length and time of day for a quick snooze.

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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Sara C. Mednick
  • Director Qian Shi
  • Narrator Alexandra Panzer
  • Storyboard Artist Qian Shi
  • Animator Qian Shi, Marie-Margaux Tsakiri-Scanatovits
  • Compositor Qian Shi, Marta Lemos
  • Art Director Qian Shi
  • Sound Designer Bamm Bamm Wolfgang
  • Music Gavin Dodds, Bamm Bamm Wolfgang
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal, Elizabeth Cox
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Production Coordinator Abdallah Ewis
  • Script Editor Cella Wright
  • Fact-Checker Eden Girma
  • See more creators
Additional Resources for you to Explore
Whether you have recently started your napping career or you’re a habitual napper who is ready for some advanced tips, here is a section that will catapult you into the napping big leagues. Get ready for Strategic Napping. Remember, the quality of your nap is dependent on the sleep stages you obtain, and the sleep stages you obtain are dependent on the time of day and duration of your nap. This means that you can be strategic about when and how long you nap to engineer the perfect nap that meets your goals.

Say you wanted to get a shot of alertness and boost to your attention, that calls for Stage 2 sleep, so a nap of about 20 minutes should do the trick, and since stage 2 sleep doesn’t vary that much across the day, you can take that power nap at any time. But if you have engaged in a serious muscle-fatiguing workout, you will need the restorative powers of slow wave sleep, for that you will want an afternoon nap of 60min. Slow wave sleep is also good for memory, so get a 60 minute nap in between studying and taking that final.

Now, if you are working on solving a riddle, writing a song, or discovering a Nobel Prize worthy solution, you will need an early morning REM-rich nap. Watch the videos on this playlist to learn more.

Take a look here for an online Nap Wheel to help you program your perfect nap, also work your way through a short series of courses by Dr. Sara Mednick to help you understand more about the science of sleep, and figure out what type of nap is right for you. You can also visit Dr. Mednick's Sleep and Cognition lab to check out their scientific publications.

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Create and share a new lesson based on this one.

About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Sara C. Mednick
  • Director Qian Shi
  • Narrator Alexandra Panzer
  • Storyboard Artist Qian Shi
  • Animator Qian Shi, Marie-Margaux Tsakiri-Scanatovits
  • Compositor Qian Shi, Marta Lemos
  • Art Director Qian Shi
  • Sound Designer Bamm Bamm Wolfgang
  • Music Gavin Dodds, Bamm Bamm Wolfgang
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal, Elizabeth Cox
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Production Coordinator Abdallah Ewis
  • Script Editor Cella Wright
  • Fact-Checker Eden Girma
  • See more creators

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