The siesta under the magnifying glass: does it serve to recover energy or does it cause insomnia?

A power nap should last between 20 and 25 minutes to avoid falling into a deep sleep and feeling disoriented when you wake up (Getty)

Napping is a topic that often divides sleep specialists. Many oppose it, except on rare occasions, and others, on the other hand, consider that it is favorable to take a short nap during the day, as long as some recommendations are followed.

Those who recommend napping point to its potential health benefits: “It can be a great tool for improving alertness and productivity in the afternoon.“, said Rebecca Robbins, sleep expert and professor at Harvard University School of Medicine. The specialist also pointed out that previous research revealed that napping can even increase short- and medium-term memory.

The key is to set the alarm and get up when it rings: a power nap should last between 20 and 25 minutes to avoid falling into a deep sleep and feeling disoriented when you wake up. Also, a longer period can affect the way we sleep at night.

However, the advice regarding the duration of the nap is not rigid. For some people, on the occasional day when they are totally tired and fatigued, a longer nap is a good catch-up remedy. “If one accumulates several days of lack of sleep at night, or had a night where for some reason he could not fall asleep and the rest was very short, in those cases a nap of 90 minutes may be recommended”, pointed out the dream expert of Harvard to the American health and wellness magazine Royal Single.

It is advisable to take naps early in the afternoon.  after 3 p.m. can interfere with nighttime sleep (Getty)
It is advisable to take naps early in the afternoon. after 3 p.m. can interfere with nighttime sleep (Getty)

Other benefits is that in addition to reduce stress levels during the day, take a nap strengthens the immune and cardiovascular system. A Swiss scientific study published in the scientific journal Heartrevealed that taking a moderate nap once or twice a week reduces the risk of heart attack.

Researchers followed 3,462 participants over 5 years without history of cardiovascular disease, 35 to 75 years old. They were asked if, in the last week, they had taken a nap, and if so, how many times, and how long each time. In conclusion, the scientists detected a lower cardiovascular risk in the group of participants who took a nap once or twice a week in relation to the individuals who did not take a nap.

The National Sleep Foundation from United States, points out that a 10- to 30-minute nap, and away from bedtime at night, is ideal for maintaining alertness and vigilance, improving performance, or simply taking a moment for oneself same. However, exceeding half an hour of rest may not be convenient.

On the other hand, one of the experts who publicly exhibits his position anti-nap it is Michael Breusknown in the US asthe dream doctor” and author of the book Good Night: The Sleep Doctor’s 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health. The specialist explained thatin general, napping is not the answer, it will reduce the ability of each person to manage their own sleep rhythm, will make it more difficult to get a night’s rest and can cause insomnia”.

“Napping can be a great tool for improving alertness and productivity in the afternoon,” said Rebecca Robbins, a sleep expert at Harvard University (Getty)

In that sense, Breus pointed out that if one needs a “recharge of energy”, the best strategy is to take a walk outdoors since the combination of physical activity with sunlight can improve attention and concentration. Another option is to have a good cup of coffee before 2 in the afternoon, if what you are looking for is to increase alertness.

Breus considered that a nap can be appropriate only in exceptional casesFor example, when you slept less than 5 hours at night and need to be very alert and focused for a big presentation in the afternoon.

For their part, the specialists of the prestigious Mayo Clinic of the USA, pointed out that napping at the wrong time of day or for too long can backfire. To know when it is convenient, they developed a guide:

What are the benefits of napping?

– Relaxes the muscles and clears the mind

– Reduces fatigue and/or tiredness

– Increases alertness

– Improves mood

– Improved performance, including faster reaction time and better memory

What are the drawbacks of napping?

Napping, in addition to reducing stress levels during the day, strengthens the immune and cardiovascular systems (Getty)
Napping, in addition to reducing stress levels during the day, strengthens the immune and cardiovascular systems (Getty)

– Due to the inertia of sleep, people can feel groggy and disoriented when waking up from a nap

night sleep problems. Short naps do not generally affect the quality of a night’s sleep for most people. But if you experience insomnia or poor quality sleep at night, it could make these problems worse.

Could a sudden increase in the need for naps indicate a health problem?

If you experience an increased need for naps and there is no obvious cause of new fatigue or tiredness in your life, talk to your doctor. You could be taking medication or have a sleep disorder or other medical condition that is interrupting your nightly sleep.

What is the best way to take a nap?

– take short naps. From only 10 to 20 minutes, and no more than half an hour. The longer you nap, the more likely you are to feel groggy afterward. However, young adults can tolerate longer naps.

– Take naps early in the afternoon. After 3 pm it can interfere with night’s sleep. Individual factors, such as your need for sleep, your sleep schedule, your age, and medication use, can also play a role in determining the best time of day to nap.

– Create a relaxing environment. Take a nap in a quiet, dark place with a comfortable room temperature and few distractions.

Finally, when getting up from a nap, take time to wake up before resuming activities, especially those that require a quick or sharp response.

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