Wellness Check: The benefits of taking a short nap during the day

Posted at 7:10 AM, Jul 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-01 08:10:54-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — At times, the hustle and bustle of life can take a toll on us.

So, you might think, the only pick-me-up you need is a power nap.

But how beneficial is a quick snooze, anyway?

3 News Now anchor Vanessa Villafuerte looks at the benefits of napping in this week’s Wellness Check.

It’s no secret the 3 News Now morning team is up dark and early, bringing you the latest news from the Heartland.

So, it’s safe to say, most of us rely on naps to help us get through the day.

Sometimes that nap sounds like a great idea. But have you ever felt more tired after a midday snooze? Turns out, studies say you might be napping for too long.

“Ideally, if you're like, 'hey, I'm tired, I really need to take a nap,' it really shouldn't be more than 15-20 minutes,” Stanley Thomas, a CHI Attending Physician said.

Thomas said naps longer than 20 minutes might be doing you more harm than good.

Thomas said something called sleep inertia might be the reason why.

"The longer you take a nap, the more sleep inertia you're fighting,” Thomas said. “Most of us, if you're an hour in, you're so groggy versus hey just take a ten-to-fifteen-minute nap, a lot of times that takes away that drive to sleep, but you're not as groggy."

Sleep inertia is what causes that groggy feeling. It’s defined as a feeling of disorientation, drowsiness and cognitive impairment, which typically happens immediately after waking.

Thomas said the key is narrowing your sleeping habits to 3 steps:

  1. Make sleep a priority 
  2. Go to bed at the same time every day
  3. Stay away from electronics at bedtime 

"You want to try to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night, is what the average is,” Thomas said.

If you also work an overnight shift, a caffeine nap might end up being your new best friend.

Thomas described a caffeine nap as drinking a cup of coffee just before a nap, then taking that short 15–20-minute nap shortly after. He said this should help you get that extra boost of energy you might need to get through the day.

But above everything, make sleep a priority. It’s a critical piece to your overall health and functionality.

"You're at an increased risk of hypertension, diabetes, and there's even things like increased risk of dementia,” Thomas said. “There's even some evidence of increasing your risk of cancer and cardiovascular events, you know, I can keep going."

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