Daytime naps are a common thing in most Indian households. It is said to rejuvenate you and get you ready for the second half of the day. There are several health benefits of napping. However, are there situations where naps aren’t good? What are the negative effects of napping? Does the duration of the nap have anything to do with the quality of sleep you receive at night? When you start napping too much during the day, does it adversely affect your nighttime sleep? Let us find answers to all these questions and more in today’s post.
Studies show that while power naps (taking a 20-minute nap) can be beneficial, longer naps say taking 2-hour naps every day, can adversely affect your sleep. It can confuse your internal clock which is why many people complain “when I take a nap I can’t sleep at night”. According to one study, sleep participants reported that instead of feeling fresh and recharged, they experienced the feeling of lethargy after taking long daytime naps. Yet another study showed that while naps that lasted between 20 to 30 minutes and not a minute more, enhanced cognitive functioning of the brain, naps that were longer resulted in poor sleep quality and interrupted nighttime sleep.
The other aspect of daytime naps that is essential for determining whether it is going to be beneficial or not is its regularity. Regular daytime power naps are advantageous to rest. However, if your habit is irregular, even short naps can affect your sleep, which in turn is detrimental to your health.
Long afternoon naps can result in sleep inertia, which is the restless irritated feeling you get after you wake up from your nap. This happens because a long nap can put you into deep stages of sleep, and therefore when that is interrupted you feel groggy. Taking just a 20-minute nap, on the other hand, does not put you into deep stages of sleep and so you feel refreshed when you wake up.
The other disadvantage of long afternoon naps is that it messes up with your sleep debt. Our sleep debt starts accumulating from the moment we wake up in the morning. When we sleep at night, we pay that debt and wake up fresh in the morning with a clean slate. Naps help if you have some unpaid sleep debt because you woke up too early or your nighttime sleep was interrupted. However, if you sleep too long in the afternoon, you will have slept off more than the debt, and so will have great difficulty falling asleep at night. Disruptions in nighttime sleep can be dangerous as they cause grave health problems like insomnia, depression, chronic heart issues, etc.
If you are someone who enjoys their afternoon naps, then you have nothing to worry about. Just make sure that they are not longer than 20-minutes, and you are golden!