Is taking a nap a good idea? For people who can sleep normally, a nap in the middle of the day to make up for the hours they missed the night before can be really helpful. And for people who can hardly sleep at night, the chance to get some rest seems irresistible no matter what time of day.
Even though a nap might seem like the only way to get the rest that you need, it can actually be somewhat counterproductive. If you have insomnia, your body already has trouble getting to sleep at night. It is quite possible that the sofa cushions, which are so inviting at two o’clock in the afternoon, will actually cost you when you’re trying to get to bed at night.
A few years ago, a study was conducted that revealed what a 45-minute nap for someone with normal sleep patterns might mean. It found that a short nap can strengthen your immune system, improve your memory, and lower your blood pressure. And it works the same way for shift workers who cannot sleep at night due to their work – for example, paramedics, police officers, or airplane pilots. If you can sleep normally, the conclusion is that a little nap in the middle of the day will do you a whole lot of good.
If your sleep abilities are impaired for any reason or you suffer from insomnia of any kind or intensity, a nap can have exactly the opposite effect of what you expect. Sleeping in the middle of the day, and thus throwing your sleep patterns even further off balance, is not recommended. If your sleep problems are caused by poor sleep habits, jet lag, stress, or other problems, a nap will only help to make the problem worse. Poor sleepers have a fragmented sleeping pattern as it is, and the nap will only exacerbate the problem.
Do you find that you are always struggling to wake up in the morning and are tired all day even though you have no trouble falling asleep at night? That may seem like the opposite of insomnia, but it could still be a sign of a sleep problem. This is a situation that could potentially signal a problem such as sleep apnea – a condition in which you simply stop breathing while you sleep. Surrendering to sleepiness and taking long naps at lunchtime will not help with this, either.
You are tired all day because you do not get enough oxygen when you stop breathing in the middle of the night. If you suspect this might be the case, you should see an expert to figure out what is really going on. There are ways to treat sleep apnea, such as by wearing a continuous positive airway pressure device that will help you breathe at night, even when your body stops running as it sleeps. If you have enough oxygen, you will find that you feel refreshed after waking up and do not need extra naps during the day.