Are Long Naps Bad For You (and How Long Is Too Long)?
Are long naps bad for you, or not? Find the answers to questions that pique your curiosity in our series, The Short Answer. Sleep medicine expert Nancy Foldvary-Schaefer, DO, fields this one.
A: Naps are OK. But you’ll probably want to nap for less than an hour, and you’ll probably want to nap earlier in the day, like before 2 p.m. or 3 p.m.
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If you can power-nap for 15 or 20 minutes, so much the better.
Napping for an hour or longer increases your risk of falling into the deep stages of sleep. When this happens, you’ll wake up with something we call “sleep inertia” (that groggy feeling where you don’t even know where you are).
Then your nap may not even be refreshing. Worse yet, you’ve probably slept off some of your “sleep debt.”
You start to create this debt from the moment you wake up in the morning. And at some point, you’ll need to sleep it off.
If you let yourself sleep that debt off too early in the day, you’ll have trouble sleeping at night.
When night-time sleep is compromised, then your wake times and bed times can start to vary, which may lead to chronic sleep problems.
—Sleep medicine specialist Nancy Foldvary-Schaefer, DO, MS