Daytime Napping Mistakes

napping on sofa

Daytime napping has historically received a bad rap because it was thought to interfere with nighttime sleep. But lately, daytime naps have been peeling off their bad-for-you reputation layer by layer.  For one instance, a recent study by Weill Cornell Medical College in White Plains, N.Y, researchers concluded that significant cognitive benefits and increase in overall sleep time in older people were found as a result of napping, as reported in Harvard Health Publications.

For healthy individuals, taking a nap can reduce fatigue, promote alertness, improve demeanor, boost performance, and simply offer relaxation.

Did You Know? If you are a napper, you are in pretty good company.  Thomas Edison, Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy, and Albert Einstein were all reportedly nappers, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

That said, if you’re finding that napping is interfering with your nighttime sleep or is causing you daytime drowsiness or sleep inertia (disoriented and groggy after a nap), then you might be guilty of one or more of these five daytime napping mistakes.

1) Napping too long. The National Institutes of Health  explains  that relatively short naps enhance performance and promotes alertness. Try to keep your naps under 30 minutes, so you’re less likely to feel groggy after your quick snooze.

2) Taking too many naps. Too many naps, even if very brief cat naps, add up and can interfere with your circadian rhythm and natural sleep phases.

3) Napping at the wrong time. Napping too close to bedtime can interfere with your nighttime sleep. Further, if you find that you need to nap in the morning, then you are most likely not getting enough sleep at night. The best time to sleep, according to the Mayo Clinic, is mid afternoon, preferably around 2pm to 3pm.

nap on the beach

4) Napping in the wrong sleep environment. Daytime naps should be conducted in a dark and quiet place. If you don’t have a dark place to nap during the day, consider using a sleep mask or adding blackout window film. Napping is also best performed when the room is cool.

5) Waiting too long to nap. Don’t wait until your daytime sleepiness is so overwhelming that it has hit you like a ton of bricks, and interferes with your productivity. Instead, “plan” on taking or schedule your nap around the same time everyday.

Keep in mind that if you have excessive daytime sleepiness (vs. occasional daytime sleepiness) or a recent need for increased naps, it may signal a medical condition or sleep disorder. If so, it’s best to talk to your physician or a sleep specialist.

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