Zzz! What About Napping?

Sleeping Man Sleep Rest (c) Lilly Cantabile CC0 1.0

I love napping. Whenever I feel stressed or tired, I sleep. However, these naps tend to be over an hour long. Occasionally, they can even last up to three hours. However, can they still be considered naps? Are naps even good for you?

Our bodies follow a sleep cycle which lasts about 90 minutes. During the first two stages of this cycle which tend to be approximately 20 minutes, our bodies enter a light sleep and our muscles begin to relax. After 30 minutes, we enter deep sleep and our muscle activity becomes limited.

What Are Naps?

Naps are typically 10 to 90 minutes long. However, depending on the nap duration, they can either be helpful or harmful for us.

The results of a recent study demonstrate 10 to 15-minute naps are most beneficial. Because people have not yet entered the deep sleep stage, this type of napping can reduce sleepiness and improve cognitive performance. These are power naps and can help decrease fatigue.

However, naps that last longer than 30 minutes tend to leave people with sleep inertia. We can easily experience this feeling of grogginess and disorientation when you wake up just after entering the deep sleep stage of the sleep cycle. As well, napping can easily affect our other sleeping periods. By taking a nap too late in the day, it may harm the quality of our nighttime sleep.

Although naps can improve mood, alertness, and performance, they do not necessarily make up for inadequate or poor quality nighttime sleep. If you have difficulties falling asleep, you may want to consider investing some effort into establishing a regular sleeping schedule to help your body clock realign!

It is easy to agree that we all lead busy lives. Living in the twenty-first century, we are constantly stressed and require quality sleep. For me, especially, I will need to break out of the habit of napping for long periods of time! Napping can be beneficial, but it is important to know how the duration of naps can affect your well-being.

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