Oh Good – Napping For More Than 30 Mins Could Put Your Health At Risk

Here's why you should opt for a short nap.
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It’s a Saturday afternoon, you’ve finished all your morning chores and completed your weekly admin which means it’s time for a cheeky nap. There’s nothing like having an afternoon nap on the sofa and getting some much-needed shut-eye.

We usually plan to nap for half an hour, but realistically we’re probably going to dose off for a few hours – and there’s nothing wrong with that, right? Well, I might have some bad news for you.

Sleeping too long or too late in the day can interfere with your nighttime rest, leading to more naps, according to Dr. Abhinav Singh, medical director of the Indiana Sleep Center in Greenwood, Indiana, and a SleepFoundation.org medical-review panel member.

Sleep Foundation released a survey looking at all things nap related and it’s bad news for us nap-lovers.

When it comes to naps the shorter the better as Singh explains “twenty to 30 minutes is probably the sweet spot.”

This type of brief nap, also known as a power nap, is just enough to get some light rest without dropping into the heavier, deeper sleep that is hard to wake up from, Dr. Singh says.

“It’s on purpose, under relatively well-rested conditions, and usually during the middle of the day,” Michael Grandner, Ph.D., director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona and a SleepFoundation.org medical-review panel member adds.

According to Gardner, even if the sleeper just barely dozes, it’s still enough time for the brain to work at improving cognitive functions such as memory, the ability to complete complex tasks, and logical reasoning.

It’s not all bad news though, if you like your afternoon naps you’ll be happy to know that the optimal time for a nap is between 1pm and 3pm as this is when alertness tends to dip.

Even though we shouldn’t be dozing off for long periods of time in the day, napping does have its benefits. Naps can help fight fatigue and protects people from health threats.

However, napping could lead to clues about our overall health. Studies have shown a link between regular napping and conditions ranging from high blood pressure and diabetes to Alzheimer’s disease.

However, Natalie Dautovich, Ph.D., a psychologist and director of Chronopsychology: The Daily Research Lab at Virginia Commonwealth University says: “This doesn’t necessarily mean that napping causes these health issues. Rather, a persistent state of exhaustion that requires daytime sleeping may be a sign of an underlying health problem.”

Gardner says most people are napping out of necessity and believes that naps should be intentional and energising – so if you’re too exhausted to stay awake, for any length of time, that could be an issue.

Nearly three-quarters of survey respondents who nap say they do it because they feel tired, while 23.1% say they don’t or can’t control their napping.

Other reasons for excessive napping can include medication that makes you sleepy or sleep apnea, a sleep disorder where breathing stops and starts and that often leads to a tired feeling throughout the day.

Whatever the reason, if you’re constantly so tired that you feel you have to nap, consider speaking with a physician, Dr. Singh says.