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Cutting out That Nap…

This lesson is a part of an audio course Fixing Your Sleep, Once and For All by Jason Ricci

In this lesson, we are going to discuss another topic. A lot of people may be resistant to cutting out your naps.

First, let me be clear and say that naps are not necessarily a bad thing. If you are over-fatigued, moody, or facing an upcoming situation where you won’t be getting adequate rest, grabbing a nap can make all the difference. The National Sleep Foundation says naps are one of the healthiest ways to cope with these challenges, as long as they are timed properly.

In fact, leading sleep researcher, Dr. William Dement, MD, PhD, says that naps can increase productivity and alertness. The Mayo Clinic lists these benefits of naps: Relaxation; Reduced fatigue; Increased alertness; Improved mood; Improved performance, including quicker reaction time, and better memory.

So, if naps offer all these benefits and many experts are hailing them, why am I telling you not to take them? The answer is simple: If you have trouble sleeping at night, you should avoid the midday nap. If you sleep great at night, and also take naps during the day, fine. Keep doing that. I have no issue with it. However, the fact that you are taking this course indicates to me that you aren’t sleeping well at night. So until we get you to that point, I want to eliminate all the possible barriers keeping you from a great sleep. Once you are sleeping well, then you can consider re-integrating your naps.

The University of Rochester Medical Center notes that naps are great for helping you recharge a little bit, but not essential for restoring you the way nighttime sleep does. The National Sleep Foundation points out that naps, if taken, should only be about 20 minutes in length, no more. If you do sleep more than that, the Mayo Clinic notes that you will experience what is called sleep inertia. That is that groggy, disconnected feeling you get when you wake up in the middle of a deeper level of sleep. You are actually less alert and more uncoordinated in this state. Dr. Brain Wind, Ph.D. of the Sleep Centers of Middle Tennessee, says naps after 3 pm hurt your “sleep drive” for nighttime sleep.

So, if you have trouble sleeping at night, you should avoid the midday nap, especially if it is to catch up on lost sleep from the night before. You need to force yourself to skip this nap. Yes, you will be tired the rest of the day. It won't be fun. But, you need to slug it out and get through the day. Also, you'll be tempted to reach for caffeine or sugar: don't do it! The goal is to sleep at night, and these quick fixes to make it through the day undermine that goal.

This miserable, tiring day will be worth it in the end, though. By the time bedtime rolls around, you'll be so exhausted. You won't be able to help but go to sleep. You could even go to bed early that night. This would ensure a little extra sleep that pays dividends compared to what a nap would give you.

When you wake up the next morning, you should feel more rested than usual. You may still feel a little tired, but better than the night before. Keep skipping that nap and if needed, go to bed early again. Your nighttime sleep will start to even out.

Now, for a little disclaimer: the above advice is if you live in a non-siesta culture, such as the United States. If you live in a siesta culture, like Mexico, scratch that previous advice and take the siesta. Siesta-culture is actually much much more in line with your natural sleep cycle. However, the lifestyle of living in a non-siesta culture is not conducive to a midday nap. SO shut out that nap, and sleep better at night.

The next lesson is called “The Snooze Alarm Is Not Really Your Friend.” In it, we will debunk the myth that the snooze alarm helps you in any way. Until then, Happy Zzz’s.

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Written by

Jason Ricci

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