Should adults take naps?

April 16, 2018 | by Alison Sage, D.O.
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

Have you ever felt a pang of jealousy while putting a small child down for a nap?

How about when you see your cat napping in a warm sunbeam? Or the dog enjoying some leisurely shuteye?

Most adults can get through a busy day without needing a nap, even if they really want one.

Does it make sense to take time for a nap?

Short naps – power naps – lasting about 30 minutes are most highly recommended for adults, as they provide an energy boost without ruining nighttime drowsiness.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, a study on NASA military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved their performance and alertness.

Naps can help combat the effects of sleep deprivation, which is a problem for about one third of adult Americans, according to a 2016 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We need about seven hours of sleep each night to stay healthy. Sleep deprivation can affect you physically and mentally.

Naps are best used when you have a feeling of extreme fatigue during the day or you know you’ll be up late (working a late shift, for example). A short nap can help you recharge.

The best time of day for a nap is the afternoon, experts say. We naturally hit a little energy slump after lunch, making it the ideal time for a power snooze. You may wake up feeling more relaxed and ready to tackle the afternoon.

One downside of napping: sleep inertia, that feeling of ultra-grogginess you can get when waking up from a daytime nap. Or, if the nap is too long or too close to bedtime, you may have a hard time falling asleep at night. Be sure to set an alarm to wake you after 30 minutes so it’s easier to return to your afternoon tasks.

If you’re going to try a power nap, make sure you find a cool, dark room where you can doze without being disturbed.

You probably wouldn’t feel like you need a nap if you get adequate sleep overnight. Try these tips for a better night’s sleep:

  • Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day (even on weekends).
  • Use your bed for sleep and intimacy only – go to another room to read, watch TV, eat and work.
  • Keep your bedroom cool, dark and quiet. Use blackout curtains and a white noise machine or fan.
  • If you can’t fall asleep or go back to sleep within 20 minutes, get up and do something boring (in another room) until you feel drowsy.
  • Don’t exercise within 90 minutes before bed. But exercise earlier in the day may help you sleep.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine, and heavy, spicy or sugary foods late in the day.
  • Create a regular sleep routine – take a warm bath, have a cup of caffeine-free tea, read or listen to relaxing music before bed.
  • Have a light snack before bed (yogurt, banana, milk).
  • Don’t take naps for more than 30 minutes, especially after 3 p.m.
  • Try relaxation techniques before bedtime (meditation, deep breathing, guided imagery, mindfulness)

Do you have trouble sleeping? Our Edward-Elmhurst Health Sleep Centers can help you enjoy peaceful, uninterrupted sleep.

Learn more

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