“For some people, taking a snooze in the afternoon may act as a reset button, enabling them to wake up feeling rejuvenated and prepared to complete their day,” Dr Vipul Gupta said
Many people struggle to find restful and adequate sleep at night and end up compensating for the same by stealing a few minutes or hours of sleep during the daytime. It helps them catch up on the lost hours of sleep and makes them feel energised and refreshed. But, are daytime naps recommended by experts? According to several studies, an afternoon can be good for your brain but the duration matters. A study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, pointed out that while a 30 to 90 minutes nap in older adults appears to have brain benefits, anything longer than an hour may create problems with cognition.
We reached out to experts who delved deeper into the pros, cons, and the right way of napping. “For some people, taking a snooze in the afternoon may act as a reset button, enabling them to wake up feeling rejuvenated and prepared to complete their day. Even though napping prevents the individual from falling asleep deeply, it does allow the accumulation of drowsiness to quickly pass, which increases alertness after the nap,” said Dr Vipul Gupta, Chief, Neurointerventional Surgery and Co-Chief, Stroke Unit, Artemis Hospital, Gurugram. He added that people who don’t take naps tend to sleep longer and wake up with severe sleep inertia.
Agreeing, Dr Gowri Kulkarni, Head of Medical Operations, MediBuddy said that taking short naps can definitely benefit an individual in many ways. “Short daytime nap offers various benefits including relaxation, reduced fatigue, increased alertness, and improved mood. Also, it aids in improved performance, including quicker reaction time and better memory,” she said.
Here are some benefits of taking afternoon naps, according to Dr Gupta.
- Relaxation and upliftment of mood
- Reduced fatigue, anxiety, and stress
- Increased alertness post-nap
- Enhanced functionality and memory
Another study stated that naps can be particularly beneficial for shift workers who struggle to get enough sleep and have to be alert at irregular times. Additionally, a short daytime snooze may also boost workplace performance by improving cognitive functions, according to National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
However, experts warned that naps can interfere with your nighttime sleep if taken later in the day or for a longer duration. “The best way to take a nap is to keep it short say 15-20 minutes and preferably early in the afternoon as napping later in the evening can affect the sleep cycle,” Dr Kulkarni explained.
Dr Gupta concurred by saying that naps should be short – approximately 20-30 minutes. “The length of the optimum nap might vary from person to person, although shorter naps are preferable if the aim is to awaken feeling rested and alert. It is advised to do so in the early afternoon because doing so after 3 o’clock might interfere with night sleep.”
In addition to disrupting your sleep cycle and initiating insomnia, long naps can lead to adverse health impacts. “Many studies and researches have also linked long daytimes naps of more than an hour to type II diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome and more,” Dr Gupta highlighted.
“Less than 30-minute naps provide a number of advantages, however longer naps are linked to decreased productivity and sleep inertia. Recent epidemiological research suggests that taking longer, more frequent naps may have detrimental long-term health impacts,” Dr Sanjay Gupta, Senior consultant, Internal Medicine, Paras Hospitals, Gurugram said.
According to health.harvard.edu, daytime drowsiness may also be a sign that you are getting low-quality sleep, which may indicate a sleep disorder. “In some instances, napping sets up a vicious cycle. You sleep during the day to make up for lost sleep at night, but then you have a harder time falling asleep at night because you slept during the day,” the website stated.
Here are some tips you can follow to avoid these adverse impacts of daytime naps.
- Timing is everything when it comes to taking naps. Ensure to set a perfect alarm, end your nap and wake up on time.
- Try to nap in the early afternoon which will not ruin your night’s sleep.
- Make sure to simply relax and keep aside all your worries while napping as its main purpose is to rejuvenate your body and mind.
- Avoid the consumption of alcohol and caffeine post 3 as it can hinder your night sleep.