In my college days, decades ago, I was a regular napper. Usually in the afternoon, before dinnertime. Or if there was a break after an early-morning class following late-night socializing. My sleep patterns were more irregular and bed time—often after midnight—was generally later than now. The only consistency was sleeping until late on a Saturday or Sunday morning.
It’s good to learn that my erratic sleep habits, well, the afternoon nap anyway, were beneficial to good health. Recent research concludes that a regular afternoon nap helps mental agility, memory and verbal fluency in adults.
- Studies show that a “power nap” of ten-to-twenty minutes is the most beneficial. This provides restorative sleep without drowsiness after waking.
- Nap early in the afternoon. A late nap may be counterproductive, affecting your ability to sleep during the night.
- Try to let go of stressful thoughts. Instead, reflect on why you’re napping.
Keep in mind that all these good things result from an afternoon refresher snooze of twenty minutes or so. Napping for an hour or more will likely leave one groggy for a while after awakening. So set your alarm if you need to.
Coping with sheltering-at-home or quarantine by trying to sleep the day away likely makes things worse and may result in difficulty sleeping at night. Long naps have been linked to increased susceptibilities to diabetes, heart disease and depression in older adults.
As with many things, a little is good; a lot, not so good.