Is Napping OK for insomniacs?

Napping is somewhat controversial among sleep experts. Some say it’s OK, others say no.

Yes, napping can reduce the amount of prior wakefulness you take to bed with you from the previous day, and so reduce your sleep drive. But many people find this effect can be minimized with some prior planning.

Our take is napping is OK if it’s done at least 6 or more hours prior to bedtime, and the nap is no longer than about a half hour.  These conditions make it less likely the nap will negatively impact overnight sleep.

So as an example, if your normal bedtime is around 10 p.m., a good time to nap might be from 3 to 3:30.  Or choose an even earlier time if you felt drowsy.

Studies of human circadian rhythms show that it’s normal for a metabolic lull to occur after lunch. Many cultures in fact build this in with a siesta time in the afternoon.  So in this way napping fits right into our natural circadian rhythm.

Personally, I’ve found that a short nap, even if I just quietly relax and don’t actually fall asleep, leaves me feeling very refreshed for the rest of the day.  And it doesn’t seem to negatively affect my ability to sleep well that night.

But, and this is an important but,  everyone’s different.  You should experiment and see what works for you.  Try different variations.

For a consistently good night’s sleep, it’s also important to comprehensively address all the involved components.  These include such broad areas as sleep hygiene, sleep timing, sleep-supportive lifestyle practices, controlling negative sleep thoughts, and addressing excessive levels of stress and anxiety.

All of this is involved with CBT for insomnia. The Sleep Training System is a downloadable program that provides a comprehensive and user-friendly CBT-based approach for better sleeping.  By working all these areas simultaneously, many insomniacs have eventually become normal sleepers again.  And are able to enjoy a good nap now and then.

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3 Comments on “Is Napping OK for insomniacs?”

  1. […] might also reconsider your idea of napping.  It is very difficult for most people to sleep soundly through the night when taking […]

  2. […] better sleep is simply to get up at the same time every day.  Another part is limit any daytime napping to no more than 10 to 15 minutes.  A third and key part is to limit your time allowed in bed to […]

  3. […]  Too much sleep during the day will in effect rob you of sleep through the night.  We suggest napping is OK, providing it is done early in the afternoon and for no more than about 10-15 […]

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