In many parts of the world, napping was a part of daily life. Although the cultural practice of daytime naps may be dwindling, they are still quite common across the globe.
Even in the United States, where daytime naps can be frowned on, the National Sleep Foundation estimated up to one-third of people take them.
For the healthy, these naps might be a great way to sharpen the memory, boost energy, relieve some crankiness, help you catch up on a late night, or even reduce the risk of a drowsy driving incident.
But if you’re not generally healthy, regular naps might not be a good thing.
Most of the news covers the potential benefits of napping – of which there are many. But there can be harm associated with these daytime sleeps, as well.
Some research suggests that people who take long naps during the day are more likely to have diabetes, heart disease, or depression. A strong urge to nap may also indicate that nighttime sleep is suffering, potentially because of a chronic condition or sleep disorder.
Naps may also reinforce poor sleep habits. If you’re regularly sleeping during the day, it could make it harder to fall asleep at night, trapping you in a cycle of fatigue.
Here’s a checklist to help you determine if your naps are healthy and how to get the most from them.
1. Consider why you’re napping. Think about why you need to sleep during the day and assess your nighttime sleep routine and habits. Try tracking your nighttime sleep with a fitness tracker and take a look at what you’re doing in the hours leading up to bedtime.
Further, if you’re getting 7-8 hours of good quality sleep every night but still feel daytime fatigue, talk to your doctor.
2. Check the clock: The best time to nap is typically the early afternoon when your body experiences a natural energy dip. Also, napping later in the day can make it harder to fall asleep at night.
3. Set a timer: A 20-30 minute nap is ideal. You’re unlikely to experience grogginess following a nap of this length, while shorter naps can also reduce the risk of nighttime wakefulness.