Are Afternoon Naps Good For You?

In the majority of people who do not get enough sleep regularly, a short 20-30 minute nap in the afternoon, when there is a natural mid-afternoon “dip” in alertness, can be refreshing and help recover some lost sleep. Sleeping in for an hour or 2 on weekends can have a similar catch-up effect. Naps however are generally discouraged in people who have chronic insomnia, with difficulty falling asleep at night. The reason being that long afternoon naps, by discharging some of our daily sleep need, reduce the drive to sleep at night. Blunting the pressure to sleep through daytime napping will add to the insomniac’s typically high nocturnal arousal state, and exacerbate the inability to fall asleep.