Napping has been debated since the first nap was created. No more debating. Napping is a good thing. No, wait…napping is a bad thing. Yep, both sides are correct.
Let’s look at the drawbacks first.
- If you have insomnia, napping can exacerbate the problem. You may have noticed that when you take a nap, you can’t get to sleep when you want to. No big surprise there.
- You may experience sleep inertia, leaving you feeling groggy and disoriented after waking up from a nap.
- People may think you’re lazy.
Next (and this list is longer, as well as more beneficial), let’s look at the benefits.
- Stress reduction – after a nap, your cortisol (stress hormone) levels drop about 50%
- Fatigue reduction
- Improved performance, including quicker reaction time, better memory, less confusion, and fewer accidents and mistakes
- Healthier heart (including accelerated recovery after psychological stress)
- Improved mood
- Helps you prepare for anticipated sleep loss
So, what are some important items to know when scheduling and taking a nap? Here are some of the basics:
- A power nap that is for productive reasons should last no longer than 20-30 minutes.
- Ideally, a nap should be taken in the same environment you experience with nighttime sleep (quiet, dark and cool). After all, sleep is sleep.
- The ideal time for a nap is in the afternoon, during the “sleep gate”, when most of the world is taking a nap with you.
- If you have insomnia, no naps for you until you solve that problem.
Kent Smith DDS, D-ABDSM