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NIOSH Training for Nurses on Shift Work and Long Work Hours

Nap Times

What time of day is most suitable for taking a nap?

Consider the physiology of the circadian clock and sleep regulation. You will be better able to take a nap when there is higher pressure for sleep.

  • If you are on a regular daytime activity schedule, your circadian rhythms promote sleep during the night; the strongest drive for sleep is between 2 and 5 a.m.
  • Other, secondary times of pressure for sleep are between midnight and 2 a.m. and in the afternoon around 2 to 4 p.m.23
  • It is harder to go to sleep and to stay asleep around 11 a.m. to noon and in the evening 1 to 3 hours before your usual bedtime.
  • How long you have been awake is another critical factor. You will tend to be able to fall asleep easier and sleep deeper the longer you have been awake, due to the buildup of homeostatic sleep pressure.
  • Also, anytime you feel very sleepy but need to stay awake, a short nap can often restore alertness.
Module: 7, Page 4 of 13