If you’re a college student, chances are you’re probably pretty familiar with naps. As a college senior, I have taken my fair share of naps before, between, after and even during class one time (sorry Dr. C!). But if you are a fellow napper, chances are you’ve experienced waking up feeling even more tired than you were before you started your nap. So, are naps really that good for us?
According to The Mayo Clinic, there are many benefits to taking naps including:
- Reduced fatigue
- Increased alertness
- Improved mood
- Improved performance, including quicker reaction time and better memory
The trick to achieving these benefits from your naps has to do with timing your naps out correctly. Executive Editor of Harvard Women’s Health Watch, Kelly Bilodeau, states that the best time to sleep is in the afternoon because your body experiences a natural circadian rhythm dip. She also highlights the importance of the length of your nap, stating that shorter naps, around 20 minutes, help prevent grogginess when you wake up, as well as difficulty falling asleep.
On the other hand, there are some drawbacks associated with naps. According to The American Heart Association napping too long during the day can disrupt overall sleep patterns, so it’s generally recommended to maximize your sleep at night. If you already experience problems sleeping at night, napping can make these problems worse. Also, some experts suggest that if you feel a strong desire to nap on most days, this could be an indication of a bigger issue: a sleeping disorder, medication disrupting sleep, type II diabetes or other health conditions.
Based on this research, I recommend that if you want to take a nap, do it! Just be mindful about how often and how long your naps are. Shorter naps are better for us and result in less grogginess, so try to keep naps between 15 to 45 minutes in order to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the rest of your day. If you feel like you need to take naps that are longer than that, or that you are taking naps more frequently than you would like, talk to your doctor about possible causes and solutions to this.
The most important thing to take away from this is that the best thing we can do for our bodies is to simply maximize our sleep at night. But, if you aren’t able to do that because of your crazy schedule, a proper nap here and there can be beneficial.