A nap is a short duration of sleep that many people usually enjoy in the afternoon. It can be helpful to some and harmful to others and, depending on how it’s taken, can potentially be beneficial or detrimental to health.
Whether or not daytime naps are healthy is a complicated matter that depends on many factors, including how long you nap and your overall health. So, if you’re considering making napping part of your daily routine, you’ll probably want to figure out practical ways to make the most out of it.
When you take your naps at the right time and for a healthy duration (about 20–30 minutes), you may enjoy benefits such as:
- Relaxation– Taking an appetitive nap (usually lasting less than 30 minutes) lets your body and mind relax. You may then wake up reenergized and in a better mood.
- Reduced Tiredness– When you don’t get enough sleep at night, you may wake up feeling tired the following day. Fortunately, taking a recovery nap may allow you to recover some of the lost sleep, easing your fatigue.
- Increased Alertness– Taking a planned 20-minute nap might help reverse the loss of alertness from sleep deprivation. This daytime rest might come in handy if you haven’t had enough sleep after driving or working long hours.
- Faster Reaction Time and Enhancement to Memory– Studies show that napping can benefit your brain and cognitive abilities. For example, it can improve memory retention. It may also boost your concentration and reaction time at work.
- Stress Relief, Mood Boost, and Emotional Regulation– Some studies suggest that napping may promote positive emotions and reduce stress from fatigue and sleep deprivation.
- Sleep Inertia– You might experience sleepiness and fuzzy-headedness after waking from a long nap. To avoid it, try taking shorter naps in the realm of 10–20 minutes. This nap duration is ideal because it provides restorative sleep that allows you to feel alert and productive after waking.
- Worsening Insomnia– You may want to avoid or at least minimize your daytime napping if you’re not getting enough sleep at night. That’s because napping can worsen your nighttime sleep problems.
- Loss of Productivity– When you wake up from a short or long nap feeling disoriented, you might not be in the right state of mind to immediately get back to work.
When and Why Should You Consider Taking a Nap?
Napping can work for you when you get its purpose and timing right. Here are some scenarios in which you might benefit from taking a daytime nap:
- Planned Napping– You can do it in preparation for something like an overnight shift or anything requiring extended wakefulness. Your goal here would be to avoid drowsiness and increase your alertness while working.
- Recovery Nap– You might need this nap to relax and recharge if you experience a sudden bout of fatigue or sleepiness.
How to Improve Naps and Overnight Sleep
Try these tips to improve your naps and night’s sleep quality:
- Set Alarms and Don’t Use Snooze– To enjoy restorative sleep and prevent waking up feeling drowsy, try keeping your naps short. This way, you can also avoid triggering or worsening sleep problems later at night. Just be sure not to go back to sleep after the alarm beeps!
- Only Nap Early in the Day– Make sure your naps aren’t too late in the day. Taking an evening nap might prevent you from falling asleep fast at night. It may also interfere with your sleep cycle.
- Emphasize Environment and Comfort– A comfortable bed is vital for your general sleep environment. Investing in a new mattress can make all the difference. For example, an air foam option from Nolah Mattress can ensure that your naps are as productive and comfortable as possible and that you regularly get restorative sleep at night. You should ideally take naps and sleep in a cool, dark place that is relaxing.
- Reduce Stress– Stress contributes to sleep difficulties and problems. So, if you’re anxious over a matter, it might help practicing relaxation techniques before trying to nap. For example, breathing exercises can help ease anxiety, paving the way for a high-quality daytime nap or even night’s sleep.
Napping Can Be Good for Your Health
Daytime napping affects different people differently. How it can benefit you depends on various factors, such as your health, napping objectives, and state of mind. However, by getting the timing and length of your naps right, you can reap potential benefits, including relaxation, increased alertness, and fatigue relief.