MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Feeling a little groggy after losing an hour of sleep? You’re not alone. The Monday after the daylight saving change is always National Nap Day.
So, is napping good for us? Good Question.
“The answer depends on the person,” says Dr. Andrew Stiehm, a sleep expert with Allina Health. “For someone that has trouble falling asleep at night, a nap can actually be part of the problem. On the other hand, if you’re someone who is tired, then getting the sleep where you can get it is a good thing.”
Einstein, Edison and Napoleon napped. Before the industrial era, humans slept in shifts. Now, many non-humans animals break up their sleep throughout the day.
Dr. Stiehm says the ideal nap would be 10 to 30 minutes. When NASA astronauts were tested on simulators after sleeping 20 to 30 minutes, their alertness went up 100 percent and their accidents reduced by 34 percent.
Ten to 30 minutes is long enough to get the benefits of a nap, but short enough to prevent deep sleep, which can make it much more difficult to wake up.
“The longer we’re awake a toxin starts to build up,” says Dr. Stiehm. “Even a 20-minute nap clears some of the product, some of the toxic product of being awake too long.”
Longer “naps” of two to three hours are not considered naps, but rather a “second sleep.”
“Eight hours of sleep is eight hours of sleep, but you really want one dominant sleep period, kind of a nice five-hour chunk at a minimum,” Stiehm said.
If you’re going to nap, experts says take your rest in a quiet, darker space — not at your desk. Mid-afternoon is the best time so as not to interrupt the night sleep.