Fit to Swim – Do You Need A Nap?


Do you need a nap?

Do you find yourself feeling drowsy?  Maybe you aren’t getting enough quality sleep at night or have too much going, and can’t turn off your day at the end of it.  You may need a nap.  Just like younger children, adults too can benefit from taking a nap.

According to the Mayo Clinic, napping can help reduce fatigue in adults as well as increase alertness, improve ones mood and help you to relax.  A nap can also help improve performance by increasing alertness including reaction time, memory and reducing confusion and mistakes.  According to WebMD, a 15-20 minute nap, or power nap, is best for resetting your system and increasing energy.  Longer naps, 30-60 minutes, have been shown to help boost memory and enhance creativity.  Getting your body all the way to REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement), usually occurring within 60-90 minutes, will help the brain make new connections and assist in problem solving.  Taking a nap may also be more effective than that extra cup of coffee.  Caffeine can decrease memory performance, so you may get a quick boost of energy, but might make more mistakes while you’re moving quickly through your work.

Not all people will find that naps work for them.  If you are anything like me, I’ve never found naps to be beneficial.  With the exception of sleeping more while I was very ill, naps cause me to feel groggy and almost sick after I wake up.  This sensation is not uncommon and is referred to as sleep inertia; feeling groggy and disoriented after waking up from a nap.  I also find that a nap completely screws up my sleep cycle.  Napping too long or too close to bedtime can cause issues when trying to fall asleep at night and with the quality of sleep you get over night.  Naps are not for me.

If you find that naps work for you, try to take 10-30 minute naps in the middle of the afternoon (between 2-3PM); this time of day and length of nap should not have adverse effects on night time sleep.  If you find that naps are not helping, and/or you continue to need longer naps without any life changes that may be affecting your sleep patterns, see your doctor.  There may be something else going on that’s worth having checked out by a medical professional.

Some information adapted from the Mayo Clinic and WebMD.

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