ARE NAPS REALLY GOOD FOR YOU?
Naps are mainly taken during the day as a way to relax and recharge, but also some may find it unhelpful and hinders their sleep. There are several factors that impact how helpful naps can be, and once you understand 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.
There are many different types of naps, which vary depending on the function that they serve:
- Recovery Naps are taken for those who are sleep deprived. Those who take recovery naps usually are up late or have interrupted sleep. This is a good way to compensate for sleep loss.
- Prophylactic Naps are taken in preparation for sleep loss. Those who commonly work night shifts may schedule naps before and during their shifts to prevent sleepiness and stay alert while working.
- Appetitive Naps are taken just because you might enjoy napping. It’s a form of relaxation and can improve your energy and mood levels when you wake up.
- Fulfillment Naps are primarily for infants, toddlers, and children, especially since they have a greater need for sleep.
- Essential Naps are for those who may not be feeling well and you may have a greater need for sleep. This is mainly because your immune system goes into a response to fight the infection or promote healing. This requires extra energy.
How long should I nap?
It is important to first understand that naps vary depending on how long you intend to be asleep for. When we sleep, we move through a series of sleep stages. Five minute naps are not beneficial for your body since they are too short to move deep enough through the sleep stages. At the same time, sleeping for 30 minutes or longer gives your body enough time to enter slow-wave, deep sleep. BUT, napping for too long or waking up from a slow-wave sleep can actually leave you feeling groggy for about an hour (also called sleep inertia).
That being said, the best nap length where it is long enough to be refreshing but not so long that sleep inertia occurs is between 10-20 minutes. These are “power naps” since they provide recovery benefits without leaving you feeling sleep afterwards.
But are naps good for me?
Well that depends. Napping can be harmful depending on different factors, such as age, what time and how long you intend to nap, and the reason for your nap, which you can learn more from the source! There are benefits to napping such as:
- Reducing sleepiness
- Improved learning
- Aiding memory formation
- Regulating emotions
On the other hand, there are disadvantages of napping, which include:
- Interfere with falling asleep when it is actually time for bed
- Can harm those who already have a hard time sleeping (insomnia)
- Sleep inertia
So how can I take the best nap?
You can set an alarm for the recommended time (10-20 minutes), nap earlier in the day (halfway point between when you first wake up and when you plan to go to bed), create a sleep-friendly environment, set aside your worries (this can be achieved through relaxation exercises), and reflect on why you are napping (what are you hoping to gain?).
In all, naps are helpful when done right! They have more benefits than disadvantages and I personally think that they are good to take whenever you are feeling overwhelmed, or are too tired to properly function in the day. Who would have thought that there is more science behind naps? But as the beautiful Paul Rudd once said, “Hey… look at us.” “Look at us. Who would have thought?” “Not me.”