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Pros and Cons of Napping

Posted On November 24, 2013
November 24, 2013

Remember back when you were a youngster, or when the kids were toddlers and naps were a daily occurrence? Naps for the young can be a godsend and help turn short-fused, crying kids into rejuvenated and restored little human beings. But as adults, can naps be similarly beneficial?

The Positives of Napping

Experts advise that the positive effects of napping depend on a number of factors. If you normally don’t have sleep problems, suffer from narcolepsy or are a shift-worker, you will benefit from napping. The pros for these individuals far outweigh the cons. The pros include increasing alertness, mood and relaxation, and at the same time reducing fatigue. Research out of Harvard University with lead investigator Robert Stickgold determined that napping allows people to be more effective problem solvers. The results of the study showed that naps allow individuals to better take information and separate out unnecessary details.

Studies on the benefits of napping also suggest that an afternoon nap can improve performance with a smaller number of mistakes and accidents. Researchers at Boston University’s Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation discovered that it was best to take that nap mid-day and was an ideal cure for the isolated sleep-deprived night. They found that missing out on several hours of sleep and replenishing them with a nap immensely helped.

In addition, if you are anticipating a late-night of work or play, a nap can help ensure enough energy and stamina to make it through. This theory was confirmed in a study at the Henry Ford Hospital’s Sleep Disorders and Research Center in Detroit. With an anticipated long night, researchers concluded that taking a 2- to 4-hour nap equipped study participants with the ability to stay alert the following day.

The Negatives of Napping

If you are an insomniac, naps can be detrimental to your desire to sleep. In fact, leading sleep authorities agree that naps can worsen your condition. The theory is that a nap, especially an afternoon nap, can lessen your ability to actually fall and stay asleep. Nevertheless, if in order to be safe and/or function, it is best to take a nap but limit the length to no more than 20 minutes and keep the time to early in the day. Naps will also not help anyone with untreated obstructive sleep apnea as it will not prevent you from stopping to breathe, which is the hallmark of the disorder.

Getting the Most Out of Your Nap

If you are lucky enough to be one of those individuals who would benefit from a nap, you are in good company. New York Yankees’ manager Yogi Berra, President Lyndon Johnson, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Artist Salvador Dali are among the famous and successful who took the benefits of napping to heart. And if you follow these simple measures, you too can maximize the positive effects.

  • Naps should only be on average 20 minutes in length and you should feel refreshed when you wake up. If longer, a feeling of grogginess will be the end result and the whole point of the nap will be wasted.
  • Take your nap between 2 and 3 p.m. This is the time that people start to feel sluggish after lunch and tend to also be on the hunt for an afternoon cup of coffee in order to have the energy to get through the remainder of the day. Advice? Choose a nap over caffeine.
  • It is important to nap in a place that is dark and quiet. There are actually corporations that have created restful environments blocking out light and sound for their employees so they can nap, such as Google with ‘nap pods.’


If you like to nap but don’t seem to get any benefit, you might be affected by sleep apnea. If you would like to find out more, please contact one of our medical concierges today at 1-855-863-4537 to schedule a free consultation.

About Phoebe Ochman

Phoebe Ochman, Director of Communications for Sleep Apnea Treatment Centers of America, manages all content and communications for the company.
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