The napping ‘valley of death’ – how long should you really nap for?

Two members of the ISS team are currently travelling through Spain, a country well known for it’s afternoon siestas. We all love a good siesta, but have you ever woken up from a nap wondering where you are or what day it is?

Other than a long sleep, napping is the best countermeasure to fatigue caused by sleep loss, extended wakefulness or circadian pressure. Studies have shown that naps as short as 10 minutes can still give you a boost, even when taken in the afternoon and can help to reduce impairment at night. However, Dr Fiona Kerr from the University of Adelaide has stated that sleeping between half an hour and an hour can enter you into the napping ‘valley of death’ – a ‘fuzzy headed’ feeling when the frontal lobe has powered down, that can leave one feeling more tired than you were originally feeling.

With that in mind, there are two lengths of time that Dr Kerr has recommended:

  • The power nap – 15-20 minutes
  • The full cycle – 60-90 minutes maximum

Be sure to give yourself time to wake up before completing any safety critical tasks.

For more information on napping, click here or leave a comment below.

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