Are Naps Bad for you? Debunking the Myth.
There aren’t many feelings better than a refreshing nap. After a morning at the beach, a lazy weekend afternoon, or a long night, a recovery nap can make you feel more like yourself.
The concept of napping has polarized the sleep community for years. Some people claim that naps are a refreshing alternative to a second cup of coffee. Others claim that naps leave them feeling groggy or keep them awake at night.
So, are naps bad for you?
Absolutely not — when done correctly.
Let’s unpack the ways that naps can affect your sleep health.
Sleep Myth #1: Napping Will Disrupt My Sleep Schedule
Positive sleep hygiene is a great foundation for a healthy lifestyle. A full night’s rest can help regulate your digestive health, improve memory retention, even help you get along better with others. Many people avoid naps altogether to avoid messing up their evening sleep routine and compromising these benefits.
Here’s the truth: napping won’t disrupt your sleep schedule as long as you nap correctly. In fact, naps can actually enhance the quality of your sleep if you nap for the right amount of time.
In the world of napping, timing is everything. Nap for too short a period of time and you won’t feel refreshed. Nap for too long and you risk feeling disoriented or wide awake at night. For best results, keep naps between 10-20 minutes. This allows your body to restore attentiveness without leaving you feeling disoriented. It gives you a boost of energy without allowing your body to slip into deep sleep or oversleep.
It’s also important to check the clock before laying down for a nap. Napping too late in the day, no matter how long, can disrupt your sleep schedule. As a rule of thumb, stop all naps after 5:00 PM to give yourself the best chance to get a full night’s sleep that night.
Sleep Myth #2: I Need to Fall Asleep for an Effective Nap.
When most of us envision a nap, we picture ourselves asleep on a comfortable bed or couch. For many people, that’s exactly what a nap might look like. But for others, your nap might look like a quiet meditation session or a timed period where you close your eyes and control your breathing.
Here’s the truth: Your main goal during a nap should be to relax and recharge. As long as you accomplish that goal, naps can take many different forms. Even a meditation-style nap is better than trying to function on poor sleep.
Sleep Myth #3: Napping Isn’t for Me.
Some people have an easy time getting to sleep. They’ll turn on white noise, take a bath, write in a sleep journal, and drift off in a matter of minutes. For the rest of us, sleep can be a lengthy process. It might require more than a few tries, particularly for people who fight anxiety on their way to sleep.
If you’ve tried in vain to nap during the day, here are a few tips:
- Meditate: Practice meditation in the minutes before you lay down for a nap. This can help declutter your mind and stabilize your breathing, both helpful when preparing for sleep of any length of time.
- Walk: Take a walk outdoors to reacquaint yourself with nature before a nap. This can also help shift your mind from work, life, or other challenges that might occupy your mind while you try to nap.
- Hydrate: Among its many benefits, water helps better regulate your core body temperature in ways that improve nap quality and longevity.
- Move: If you’ve planned a nap in advance, try working out in the hours before your nap. This allows your body to expend extra energy, paving the way for a successful nap in the late morning or early afternoon.
- Stretch: Even if you don’t have the time or the capacity for a full workout, stretching is still an effective way to instigate a nap. Stretching helps improve blood flow and relieve any extra tension you might feel.
Here’s the truth: Everyone can nap. However, not everyone can nap easily. If you’re a high-strung or naturally anxious person, napping might be a more difficult activity for you. You’ll need to train yourself to nap, working your way out of racing thoughts and toward a wind-down process. You might need to visit a specialist or participate in a sleep study to fully diagnose the sleep challenges you face.
What are the Benefits of a Great Nap?
While a good night's sleep is still an essential ingredient for a healthy day, sometimes we need that extra energy boost to combat daytime fatigue. Timed correctly, a great nap can improve your mood and restore energy levels.
Here are some of the best benefits to a well-timed nap:
- Improve alertness and brain function
- Reduce stress and regulate mood
- Sharpen your problem-solving skills
- Regulate cardiovascular health
- Relax your mind and body
- Boost creativity
- Elevate immune system functionality
What’s the Best Way to Nap?
Napping isn’t so much a science as a skill. When you nap the right way, you can significantly improve your energy levels and general well-being. The best nap is a combination of the right timing, the right environment, and the right bedding.
The Right Time
We’ll say it again: the best naps take place at the right time, for the right amount of time. Keep naps 20 minutes or less; you’ll have enough time for rest and recovery without allowing your body to sink into deep sleep.
And be sure to wrap up all naps by 5:00 PM. This gives your body the chance to expend a sufficient amount of energy between your nap and bedtime.
The Right Environment
Whether it’s a nap or a full night’s rest, the right environment allows you to minimize distractions and focus on personal rest.
Here are a few things to focus on when optimizing your sleep environment:
- Proper lighting
- Noise reduction
- Comfortable pillows, blankets, and other sleep accessories
- Mild temperatures
It’s also important to remove any electronic devices from your immediate environment. Even if you’re only planning to take a 15-minute nap, blue light from a phone, tablet, or computer can keep you awake.
The Right Mattress
The right mattress is a huge difference-maker in the recipe for better sleep. That’s why we developed our patented bedMATCH sleep diagnostic program: to take the guesswork out of the sleep you deserve. After a 5-minute quiz, we’ll pair you with mattress options guaranteed to deliver the best rest for your body type.
Take our bedMATCH quiz and bring the results into the closest Mattress Warehouse — or shop online — to improve the quality of every nap you take.