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Napping has a negative stigma - most think napping should be reserved for the very young, very old or very sick. Yet many healthy adults nap and are not negatively affected by it. However, those who find themselves needing excessive sleep - naps many times a week along with a good night's rest - should have their napping habits studied by a medical professional. According to the National Sleep Foundation, nappers should follow the following rules to ensure that their nap is a healthy event.
- The right length: a short nap is usually recommended (20 to 30 minutes) for short-term alertness. This type of nap provides significant benefit for improved alertness and performance without leaving you feeling groggy or interfering with nighttime sleep.
- The right environment: your surroundings can greatly impact your ability to fall asleep. Make sure that you have a restful place to lie down and that the temperature in the room is comfortable. Try to limit the amount of noise heard and the extent of the light filtering in.
- The right time: if you take a nap too late in the day, it might affect your nighttime sleep patterns and make it difficult to fall asleep at your regular bedtime.
- Post-nap impairment and disorientation is more severe, and can last longer, in people who are sleep deprived or nap for longer periods. When you wake up from a nap you may feel sleep inertia, defined as a feeling of grogginess and disorientation that can come with awakening from a deep sleep. While this state usually only lasts for a few minutes to a half hour, it can be detrimental to those who must perform immediately after waking from a napping period.
- Napping can have a negative effect on other sleeping periods. A long nap or a nap taken too late in the day may adversely affect the length and quality of nighttime sleep. If you have trouble sleeping at night, a nap will only amplify problems.