A nano nap is a period of sleep which lasts between 15 and 30 seconds. It is generally involuntary, and often occurs when people are incredibly tired and bored. Many office workers and students are familiar with the concept, thanks to falling asleep during meetings and classes. Although napping in general is believed to be beneficial, the benefits of the nano nap are dubious, since one is generally not asleep long enough to truly relax.
Falling asleep appears to benefit humans in a number of ways. Sleep promotes general healing, relaxation, and normal hormone levels. Unconsciousness also appears to have an important role in the storage and processing of memories. Different organisms require different amounts of sleep, and naps have long been recommended for humans.
By taking a nap or siesta, people can refresh themselves, making their days ultimately much more productive and pleasant. Many people find a 20 minute “power nap” optimal, since it seems to recharge the sleeper extremely effectively. People can also take shorter naps such as micronaps, naps which only last a few minutes, and they may wake with a surprising sense of well being. For people who are trying to integrate napping into their routine, the best time to nap is in the late morning or early afternoon. In the late afternoon, it is possible to slip into deep sleep, which can leave you feeling groggy and out of it, rather than refreshed.
Because a nano nap only lasts a few seconds, it does not contribute much to the napper's general health. In fact, since one usually feels guilty and stressed when waking up from a nano nap, it is entirely possible that the nap may actually make the napper feel worse. However, it can be used as an indicator to suggest that it is time for a more lengthy nap, or a change of environment.
People are often scolded for falling asleep at work or in class. This may not be the best approach to the problem, since falling into a nano nap may be a symptom of a health problem. If you find yourself frequently drifting off, you may want to consider better sleep hygiene so that your nightly rest is more beneficial. It is also a good idea to think about integrating naps into your routine. Many workers, for example, are permitted several 15 minutes breaks every day; you may want to take advantage of one of these break periods to nap in a dark, calm area of your workplace.