Are Naps Really Good For Your Health?
March 26, 2020
Many people around the world love a good nap. In fact, siestas are an integral part of some cultures. A quick nap boosts productivity and performance, according to some research.
But, other studies (perhaps controversial) indicate a connection between napping and mortality. Napping during the day increases the risk of premature death by up to a third! Apparently, napping causes inflammation and increases the risk of respiratory illnesses.
Could it be that people who nap regularly do so for reasons other than because they feel sluggish in the afternoon? Why do they nap? Is it for cultural or environmental reasons? Age-related issues? Underlying health conditions?
Until researchers find conclusive evidence one way or the other, follow these ground rules to ensure your naps do you more good than harm.
How to Nap Right
● No more than 30 minutes
The health and cognitive benefits of naps decline rapidly the longer you nap. Naps longer than an hour are bad for your physical and mental health. They leave you feeling groggy, plus you’re likelier to make mistakes after waking up from a long nap.
The ideal nap is between 20 and 30 minutes long, ensuring that you stay within the light stage of sleep and awaken just before deep sleep begins.
The danger zone is between 30 and 80 minutes because you’ll wake up before the end of the deep sleep phase, making it likelier you’ll have that dreadful groggy feeling. You’d be better off napping for a complete sleep cycle, which is about 90 minutes long.
If you find yourself struggling with keeping your naps between 20-30 minutes, you might have a hidden health condition like depression or obstructive sleep apnea.
● Not after 3 pm
If you nap too early in the day, you’ll probably just lie awake for 30 minutes because your energy levels are still high. Nap too late in the day, and you’ll likely struggle to fall asleep at night.
The best time for a nap is early afternoon because that’s when your energy levels start to dip. You’ll fall asleep quicker, sleep more deeply, and wake up more refreshed.
● Find a comfortable place
If you’re serious about napping, find a quiet, comfortable place with few distractions. If you’re at work, you could avoid the noise and bright lights of the office by taking a short nap in your car, if you drive to work. Alternatively, take lunch offsite and use your lunch break for a nap. Napping under your desk isn’t recommended.
● Naps are not a replacement for sleep
Napping during the day isn’t a band-aid for poor sleep during the night. You require deep sleep to restore your mind and body; naps only provide light sleep. You’re better off saving the time you would have spent napping by going to bed earlier instead.
Naps aren’t for everyone. Some people love them while others either lie there will their eyes closed until the alarm goes off, or wake up two hours later in a panic, not knowing what day it is or where they are!
If you enjoy naps, try to take them in a comfortable place before 3 pm and keep them under 30 minutes. Also, never use them as a replacement for sleep unless you’re ill or sleep-deprived and need your rest.