Are you a napper?  Some people love a quick nap and others hate the idea.   Naps lasting no longer than 30 minutes can actually be good for you.  They can help improve your attention, memory, and mood.  Naps, however, can be a problem if they affect your regular sleep or happen too often which may indicate health issues.  Some research shows that people who take frequent daytime naps may be more likely to develop cardiovascular issues, or increase the risk of high blood pressure and stroke. Given the risk, are naps good for you? Let us take a look.

Benefits of Napping:

Taking a short 20-30 minute nap can have several benefits including:

1)   Enhances your memory

2)   Helps you pay attention

3)   Improves your mood

4)   Is more cost effective than coffee and energy drinks

5)   Supports creativity

Risks of Napping:

Although napping is not a bad thing, frequent naps or long naps might indicate a less restful night sleep.  Not getting enough sleep at night can result in increased risk of depression, heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.   People who do not sleep well at night have higher levels of catecholamines, which affects your body’s adrenaline response and may raise blood pressure.  Poor sleep can result in your body being unable to keep blood vessels open and free of clots.  Nappers have a 12% higher risk of high blood pressure and a 24% higher risk of stroke than people who do not nap.  It could be that these people were napping too often or for too long.

Tips for Healthy Napping:

It is unclear whether naps are bad for you.  If you like to take naps periodically and feel your mental or physical health improves then follow these tips.

1)   Avoid napping late in the day.  Mid-afternoon is the optimal time.  Avoid napping after 3 PM as that might affect your nighttime sleep.

2)   Have a coffee right before your nap.  It takes a bit of time for the caffeine in coffee to kick in.  If you have a coffee right before you nap it will kick in at the right time for you to wake up making you feel more energized

3)   Make your environment comfortable.  Take a nap in a cool, dark, quiet place.

4)   Time your naps. Set an alarm for no longer than 20-30 minutes.  Napping for longer could result in you waking up feeling groggy and un-rested.

If you cannot make it through the day without a nap, or you feel so tired you want to nap all the time, you are best to talk to your health care provider.  This could be a symptom of an underlying problem.