How long is a God nap?

A “God nap” refers to a short nap or period of rest, typically during the daytime. The exact length of a God nap can vary, but it is generally considered to be between 10-20 minutes long. God naps get their name from the idea that even God needed to rest from time to time after periods of creation, as referenced in some religious traditions. Let’s explore the ideal length, benefits, and tips for an effective God nap.

What is the ideal length for a God nap?

The ideal length for a God nap is usually between 10-20 minutes. This allows enough time to get meaningful rest, without entering into deeper stages of sleep that can lead to grogginess upon waking.

Here are some quick answers about the ideal God nap length:

  • 10 minutes – The minimum amount of time needed to get refreshing rest.
  • 15-20 minutes – The sweet spot for most people to feel recharged without negative effects.
  • 30 minutes or more – Increased risk of sleep inertia upon waking.

Naps longer than 30 minutes often lead to sleep inertia, which is that groggy feeling that can occur after waking from deeper sleep. With short 10-20 minute naps, you are unlikely to enter the deeper stages of sleep that lead to this effect.

What are the benefits of a God nap?

Some key benefits of taking a brief God nap include:

  • Improved alertness – A short nap can give an energy and performance boost.
  • Enhanced learning & memory – Napping may help improve recall and learning capacity.
  • Better mood – Short naps can elevate mood and reduce stress.
  • Increased productivity – The right nap length results in higher output vs. no nap.

Research has shown that short daytime naps can improve alertness, cognitive functioning, and mood. In one study, participants performed better on learning and memory tests after a 60-90 minute nap compared to both straight study sessions and shorter or longer naps.


Multiple studies have found improvements in subjective sleepiness and objective performance after short daytime naps under 30 minutes. One meta-analysis looking at the effects of naps under 30 minutes found significant improvement in subjective alertness, with less evidence for enhancement of objective performance.

Learning & Memory

Naps in the 60-90 minute range may optimize memory consolidation compared to shorter or longer naps. One study found a short 60-90 minute nap improved memory recall 5-fold compared to non-nap controls. However, longer naps beyond 90 minutes showed impaired recall, likely due to deeper slow-wave sleep.


Research indicates that short naps can provide mood benefits related to reduced fatigue and increased subjective vigor. One study found that a 30 minute nap significantly improved fatigue, depression, and confusion compared to a non-nap control group.


The right nap length results in higher alertness and performance versus no nap. However, longer naps may be detrimental. One study found a 30 minute nap increased output versus no nap, while a 60 minute nap reduced performance.

Tips for an effective God nap

Here are some tips to get the most refreshing rest from your brief God nap:

  • Time it right – Early to mid-afternoon is best for a nap. Too late can interfere with nighttime sleep.
  • Limit to 10-20 minutes – Stick to a brief nap to avoid sleep inertia upon waking.
  • Find a dark, quiet space – Optimize the environment for quality rest.
  • Don’t fight it – If very tired, it’s best not to resist the urge to nap.
  • Pair with caffeine – A nap plus caffeine can amplify alertness.
  • Plan ahead – Integrate naps into your schedule for optimal timing.

The early to mid-afternoon is the best time for a nap as our circadian rhythms make us naturally more sleepy during this time. Be sure not to nap too late in the day as this can negatively impact nighttime sleep.

Try to limit your nap to that 10-20 minute golden time frame. Use a timer or alarm to prevent longer naps that could lead to grogginess.

Create an optimal napping environment by finding a comfortable spot that’s cool, dark and quiet. Use eye masks or ear plugs as needed.

If you feel a strong urge to nap, it’s best not to fight it. Taking the nap when your body is craving it will result in higher quality rest.

Consider pairing your nap with a caffeine boost for an amplifier effect. The nap provides immediate restoration, while the caffeine kicks in after to extend the alertness boost.

For regular nappers, planning your nap into your schedule at ideal times will help maximize the benefits.

How long should you nap based on how tired you are?

The ideal nap length can vary based on your current level of sleepiness and fatigue. Here are some quick recommendations:

  • Not tired = No nap needed
  • Mildly tired = 10-20 minute nap
  • Very tired = 20-30 minute nap
  • Exhausted = 30-45 minute nap

If you aren’t tired, then you likely don’t require a nap for refreshed alertness. For mild to moderate fatigue, stick to that 10-20 minute sweet spot for optimal effects.

If very tired or exhausted, you may benefit from a slightly longer nap up to 30-45 minutes. Just be aware of the increased risk of sleep inertia with longer daytime sleeps.

Not Tired

If you aren’t noticeably tired, then you may not need a nap for improved performance or alertness. Taking an unnecessary nap could leave you feeling groggy.

Mildly Tired

When mildly tired, such as hitting an afternoon energy lull, a 10-20 minute power nap is recommended. This provides refreshing rest without negative effects.

Very Tired

Strong fatigue may call for a slightly longer nap of 20-30 minutes. Make sure to set an alarm to avoid oversleeping, which can exacerbate fatigue.


Severe exhaustion may warrant a longer nap around 30-45 minutes. Be prepared for possible sleep inertia upon waking from deeper sleep stages.

How does nap length affect sleep inertia?

Longer naps are more likely to lead to sleep inertia upon waking. Here is how nap length correlates with sleep inertia risk:

  • 10 minutes – Very low risk of sleep inertia
  • 20 minutes – Low risk of sleep inertia
  • 30 minutes – Moderate risk of sleep inertia
  • 60+ minutes – High risk of sleep inertia

With short naps under 20 minutes, you are unlikely to enter the deeper stages of NREM sleep that are associated with sleep inertia upon waking.

After 30 minutes of sleep, you are more likely to experience some deeper NREM sleep. Waking up during deep NREM sleep can trigger grogginess and disorientation.

Long naps of an hour or more are very likely to involve significant deep NREM sleep. This stage is hardest to awaken from smoothly, hence the high chance of waking confusion and sleep inertia.

10 Minutes

A brief 10 minute nap is too short to get into deep NREM sleep. This makes sleep inertia very unlikely upon waking.

20 Minutes

There is only a low risk of some light NREM sleep at this length. But chances of deep NREM are minimal, keeping sleep inertia risk low.

30 Minutes

At 30 minutes, moderate NREM sleep is likely. This stage brings an increased risk of associated sleep inertia upon waking.

60+ Minutes

Long naps over an hour almost always involve substantial deep NREM sleep. This makes severe sleep inertia and grogginess a likely side effect.

What are the stages of sleep in a nap?

The stages of sleep you experience during a nap depend on the total nap length. Here’s an overview of the sleep cycles in different duration naps:

Nap Length Sleep Stages
10 minutes Mostly light NREM sleep
20 minutes Light to moderate NREM sleep
30 minutes Light NREM, some deeper NREM possible
60+ minutes Light to deep NREM, some REM possible

During a brief 10-20 minute nap, you are unlikely to progress beyond light NREM sleep before the nap ends.

At 30 minutes, light NREM is still predominant, but some deeper NREM sleep is possible.

Long 60+ minute naps typically involve light NREM at the start, followed by deep NREM and REM sleep in the latter half as you progress through the full sleep cycle.

10 Minute Nap

A 10 minute nap may contain light NREM sleep, but not progress into deeper stages before waking.

20 Minute Nap

Most of this nap would be spent in light NREM sleep, with only minimal deep NREM sleep likely.

30 Minute Nap

You are likely to experience light NREM sleep at the start of this nap. Towards the end, some deeper NREM is possible.

60+ Minute Nap

A nap this long allows progression through the full sleep cycle. You’ll get light NREM, deep NREM, and REM sleep if nap is long enough.

How long does it take to fall asleep during a nap?

On average, it takes around 10-15 minutes to fall asleep when intentionally napping during the day. However, this can vary substantially based on individual differences and circumstances.

Here are some quick estimates for how long it takes to fall asleep during a nap:

  • Very tired = 2-5 minutes
  • Moderately tired = 5-10 minutes
  • Mildly tired = 10-15 minutes
  • Not tired = 15-30 minutes

If very sleep deprived, you may fall asleep within just 2-5 minutes of lying down to nap. Under moderate tiredness, expect it to take 5-10 minutes to nod off.

When only mildly tired, it typically takes 10-15 minutes to fully transition into sleep. And without much sleep pressure, it can take 15-30 minutes to fall asleep for an afternoon nap.

Very Tired

High sleepiness means you are likely to fall asleep within 2-5 minutes of head hitting the pillow during your nap.

Moderately Tired

For medium levels of sleep pressure, expect to drift off to sleep within about 5-10 minutes during your nap.

Mildly Tired

With mild sleepiness, you are likely to take 10-15 minutes to fully transition into sleep when napping.

Not Tired

Without significant fatigue, it may take you anywhere from 15-30 minutes to finally fall asleep during an afternoon nap.


In summary, the ideal God nap length is around 10-20 minutes for most people. This brief nap allows you to gain the benefits of improved alertness, mood, and performance without the drawback of sleep inertia upon waking. When very fatigued, napping for up to 30 minutes can also be highly restorative. Avoid napping longer than 30 minutes during the daytime when possible. Consider your current level of tiredness and allow enough time to fully transition into a restful sleep when planning the timing for an effective God nap.

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