About to Take a Nap? Think Again.


Samantha Zakrzewski, Writer/Editor

After a long day of tests and boring lectures that you doze off to, it’s no surprise that your bed is calling your name when you return home from school. There’s no greater feeling in the world than when you’re finally able to crawl under your warm covers and rest your head on your soft pillow. While no one’s denying that the occasional power nap is beneficial for one’s health as it improves one’s mood and boosts their energy levels, there are also consequences that come along with these seemingly harmless naps. Believe it or not, taking naps that excess 30 minutes can be a huge warning sign that an individual is at risk for serious health problems.

We’ve all had those naps that we woke up from feeling refreshed and almost like a new person. But we’ve also had those naps that we woke up from feeling even worse than before we took the nap. This may be due to sleep inertia, which is when a person feels even sleepier and groggier than before they took their nap. Sleep inertia is caused by an individual waking up during REM sleep, rather than non-REM sleep. REM sleep is the stage in which an individual dreams and is very relaxed. Unlike REM sleep, during non-REM sleep, an individual’s heart rate and blood pressure slows down, allowing the individual to wake up feeling more alert (Valley Sleep Center).

Not only that, but napping for a long period of time could also cause you to be tossing and turning at night. People who take naps during the day tend to do so due to a lack of sleep the previous night. Although they may feel refreshed after their nap, come night time, they’ll find themselves once again unable to fall asleep. Eliminating naps could help prevent one from having difficulties with sleeping at night.

Although some research states that napping improves one’s life expectancy, recent research contradicts this information as it has proven that napping for a long period of time could lead to serious health issues. According to Dr.Tomohide Yamada, napping for an hour or more causes people to fall into a deep sleep. The problem with this is that people fail to complete the sleep cycle (The Telegraph 2015). In Yamada’s research, participants were asked questions regarding their sleep and nap schedule. The results were then compared to the participants’ history of type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease. From this study, the researchers concluded that those who took longer naps were at a greater risk for these diseases (Casteel 2016).

Longer naps causing type 2 diabetes? This may come across as a bit extreme. To clarify, the longer naps don’t directly cause this disease. Rather, people who take longer naps are generally stressed and when people are stressed they tend to develop an unhealthy lifestyle (pigging out on junk food, eating fast food, not exercising, etc.), which could in turn cause type 2 diabetes. Those who take shorter naps have more leisure time, which typically correlates with less stress (Reinberg 2016). The longer naps serve as a sort of warning sign that an individual may have diabetes (BBC 2016).

However, shorter naps have proven to improve one’s health as the individual doesn’t enter the deep slow-wave sleep. Setting your alarm for 15-20 minutes is a great way of power napping and should allow you to wake up feeling refreshed. According to Sleep.org, it is actually recommended that people take a power nap about an hour after they eat lunch. Napping rather than drinking coffee will allow individuals to wake up more alert and productive. Not to mention, power napping in the early afternoon won’t have negative consequences on your night time sleep (Sleep.org).

For all of you who enjoy taking naps, don’t stop taking them! There is nothing wrong with a 15-20 minute power nap. If anything, you should take a power nap when you’re feeling drowsy and lethargic. However, just make sure that your nap isn’t too long as that could lead to trouble with sleeping at night or serious health problems. You may even want to consider sleeping more at night to avoid napping altogether!

Works Cited

“Hour-Long Afternoon Naps May Increase Risk of Diabetes.” The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 18 Sept. 2015, www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/11872199/Why-power-naps-may-be-bad-for-your-health.html.

“Longer Naps May Awaken These Four Health Issues.” Vital Record, 23 June 2016, vitalrecord.tamhsc.edu/long-naps-cause-health-issues/.

“Power Nap Like a Pro – Sleep.org.” Sleep.org, www.sleep.org/articles/what-is-a-power-nap/.

Reinberg, Steven. “Study Links Long Naps to Type 2 Diabetes Risk.” WebMD, WebMD, 14 Sept. 2016, www.webmd.com/diabetes/news/20160914/study-sees-link-between-long-naps-type-2-diabetes-risk#2.

“Long Daytime Naps Are ‘Warning Sign’ for Type-2 Diabetes.” BBC News, BBC, 15 Sept. 2016, www.bbc.com/news/health-37362341.

“12 Facts About Sleep Inertia.” Valley Sleep Center – Sleep Doctors & Sleep Studies in Phoenix Arizona, valleysleepcenter.com/12-facts-about-sleep-inertia/.

Casteel, Beth. “Long-Naps, Daytime Sleepiness Tied to Greater Risk of Metabolic Syndrome.” American College of Cardiology, 24 Mar. 2016, www.acc.org/about-acc/press-releases/2016/03/24/14/59/long-naps-daytime-sleepiness-tied-to-greater-risk-of-metabolic-syndrome.