The Nap Wheel (on the cover of Take A Nap! by Sara Mednick, PhD) is a great way to design your own custom nap based on the time you wake up in the morning.

How: Drag the “wake-up time” dial to the hour you woke up. Then follow the hours clockwise until you reach the point in the day when rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and slow-wave sleep (SWS) cross — the point of ultimate balance.

Example: If you woke up at 7 am, that balance point would be 2 pm. Naps taken before the crossing point will have more REM sleep… naps taken after it will have more SWS. Here are three different kinds of naps and a list of the benefits each kind can offer.

  • Stage 2 nap. This nap reduces sleepiness, heightens alertness, increases concentration, enhances motor performance and elevates mood.
  • Sleep for: 15 to 20 minutes.

  • Stage 3 (SWS) nap. Clears away useless information, improves conscious memory recall and restores and repairs tissues.
  • Sleep for: 60 minutes.

  • Stage 4 (REM sleep) nap. Increases creativity, improves perceptual and sensory processing, and improves memory for complex information.
  • Sleep for: 90 minutes.