Often during the day many of us feel the need to have a bit of a lie-down usually because it’s been a busy day or because of poor quality sleep the night before. While some warn that you’ll be ruined for sleep that night if you nap during the day, when done correctly napping can actually have a few benefits. Napping is an established practice in many parts of the world and when you nap, you’ll be joining 51% of people around the world who enjoy a day time snooze.
While sometimes being overly sleepy is an early indicator of a sleep disorder or poor health, naps can be beneficial for many people. Naps reduce feelings of sleepiness and increase alertness but also improve performance in areas such as reaction time, coordination, logical reasoning, memory consolidation, symbol recognition, mood, and emotion regulation. It has also been suggested that daytime naps may decrease blood pressure in some individuals.
Napping can be very beneficial and can, in part, make up for sleep lost due to work, kids, or wild nights. Short naps can improve your mood and emotional resilience due to reduced levels of stress. When you nap, aim for around ten to 30 minutes, this will stop you from reaching deep sleep and won’t interfere with your nighttime sleep schedule.
But there are a few caveats:
1) if you are napping to catch-up on poor quality night-time sleep then this needs to be resolved;
2) limit the nap to ten to 30 minutes to reduce the risk of suffering from sleep inertia (when you wake up feeling groggy and ‘out of it’);
3) avoid napping later in the day as it may prolong the time it takes to fall asleep at night.
Adequate sleep, around seven to nine hours in a 24-hour cycle for most adults, is essential for optimum immune and brain function, to reduce your risk of car accidents, and decrease your risk of a range of chronic health problems. However, sleep appears to be best when consolidated at night, so it’s important you don’t let your napping interfere with your nighttime sleep.
Please note that excessive daytime tiredness could be a clue to an underlying sleep or other health problem, so if this is a regular thing for you and goes beyond the normal scope it is best to check with your doctor.