There’s something very appealing about taking a nap … a few moments to catch up on some sleep sounds like a lovely idea. But, if you’re a poor sleeper, does taking a nap affect how you sleep at night?
Well, the short answer is ‘yes.’ In general, it’s best to keep all your sleeping for night-time. Keeping to the rule that bed is for sleep, the night is for sleep and the day is for wakefulness really helps our sleep pattern. It builds up a strong homeostatic drive for sleep in bed and strengthens the bed-sleep connection. Light is hugely important for the timing of our body clock so sleeping in the daylight actually confuses us. We work best when our sleep is aligned with when it’s dark outside. If your sleep seeps into the daytime, it’s likely that being awake will seep into your night, and this will only make your sleep worse.
If you’re currently a napper, try stopping your naps. This should better prepare you for a continuous, longer sleep at night as well as strengthen the connection between your bed and sleep.
But, what if the urge to nap is just too strong? If you’re fighting to keep your eyes open, try going for a brisk walk. The fresh air and daylight will help boost your energy levels. Sometimes, just closing your eyes and resting your muscles for a few minutes can help – but catch yourself before you drop off!
If you feel that you absolutely must have a nap, or if you fall asleep without wanting to, then you have to make sure that you don’t have another type of sleep problem that is associated with excessive daytime sleepiness. If you do nap, make it 10-15 minutes at most. Then it shouldn’t affect your sleep too much.
So, if you sleep well, taking the occasional nap is fine but if you’re a poor sleeper, save your sleep until night-time!