While a short nap can be refreshing and beneficial for boosting brain function and alleviating fatigue, long naps may have the opposite effect, potentially disrupting nighttime sleep patterns and leading to feelings of grogginess. Here’s why you should consider keeping your naps short and sweet.

Understanding Sleep Cycles

Napping for too long can interfere with your natural sleep cycles. A complete sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes, and waking up in the middle of one can leave you feeling more tired than before you closed your eyes. Short naps of 20-30 minutes, however, can enhance alertness without entering deep sleep, making it easier to wake up refreshed.

Effects on Nighttime Sleep

Taking long naps, especially in the late afternoon or evening, can make it harder to fall asleep at night. This can be particularly problematic for individuals with insomnia or those trying to maintain a regular sleep schedule. A brief nap early in the afternoon is less likely to affect your nighttime sleep.

Potential for Sleep Inertia

Sleep inertia refers to the groggy feeling you get after waking up from deep sleep. Long naps can cause significant sleep inertia, impairing cognition and performance for a short period after waking. This can be inconvenient if you need to return to tasks that require focus and coordination.

Setting a Nap Alarm

To avoid the drawbacks of long naps, consider setting an alarm for 20-30 minutes. This will help you get the restorative benefits of a nap without the negative side effects. Positioning your nap time earlier in the day, ideally before 3 PM, can also help maintain your nighttime sleep quality.