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Discover the different types of naps and when you need them.

A nap is a short period of sleep, usually taken during the day. One-third1 of American adults nap. Many swear by napping as an effective way to relax and recharge, while others find naps unhelpful and disruptive to their sleep.

Not all naps are created equal, and many factors impact how helpful naps can be. By understanding the role of napping, you can learn to take effective naps that support your body’s internal clock and maintain your energy level throughout the day.

Types of Naps

Naps can be categorized2 depending on the function they serve. Thinking about what you’re hoping to gain from a nap is one part of making napping work for you.

  • Recovery Nap: Sleep deprivation can leave you feeling tired the following day. If you are up late or have interrupted sleep one night, you might take a recovery nap the next day to compensate for sleep loss.
  • Prophylactic Nap: This type of nap is taken in preparation for sleep loss. For example, night shift workers may schedule naps before and during their shifts in order to prevent sleepiness and to stay alert while working.
  • Appetitive Nap: Appetitive naps are taken for the enjoyment of napping. Napping can be relaxing and can improve your mood and energy level upon waking.
  • Fulfillment Nap: Children have a greater need for sleep than adults. Fulfillment naps are often scheduled into the days of infants and toddlers and can occur spontaneously in children of all ages.
  • Essential Nap: When you are sick, you have a greater need for sleep. This is because your immune system mounts a response to fight infection or promote healing, and that requires extra energy. Naps taken during illness are considered essential.

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