Q: Do naps have health benefits for adults? What are the dos and don’ts of naps?
A: More than a third of American adults are not getting the recommend seven or more hours of sleep per night on a regular basis. Naps are not a substitute for a good night sleep, but they do provide some health benefits:
- Enhances performance and reduces mistakes. A NASA study found sleepy pilots improved performance by 30% post a 40 minute nap.
- Increases alertness and may extend alertness later into the day. The same NASA study found the sleepy pilots improved alertness by 100% post nap.
- Reduces stress and can improve mood.
What are the do and don’ts of a nap?
- Naps should not replace a night of sleep.
- If you are not tired, don’t force yourself to nap.
- Naps should be “power naps” and only last 20 to 30 minutes.
- Should occur in a restful environment (quiet and dark).
- Should not occur too early in the morning as your body needs to transition away from the night sleep state.
- Generally, should not occur after 3pm to avoid impacting your night sleeping pattern.
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