Do Catnaps Affect Sleep Disorders?

woman napping on the couch Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea can leave you feeling tired throughout the day and craving a nap in the hopes of making it through everything you have to do. Even if you’re spending enough time in bed, a sleep disorder can leave you feeling anxious and exhausted the next day.

In this blog, the board-certified sleep doctors at eos sleep will explain more about the possible benefits and drawbacks of napping, especially if you have a sleep disorder.

Can napping help with sleep apnea?

If you feel tired during the day, a nap can serve as a quick pick-me-up. A short nap of about 20 to 30 minutes can leave you feeling more refreshed and alert without interfering with your nighttime sleep. It can also help improve your mood, as well as your reaction time and memory.

How should you nap?

The following tips will help you get a quick catnap without jeopardizing your sleep at night:

  • Keep it short: 30 minutes is the maximum amount of time you should spend napping.
  • Don’t nap late in the day: Many people on a regular daytime schedule experience a post-lunch slump around 2:00 to 3:00 in the afternoon. A short nap taken around this time probably won’t interfere with nighttime sleep, but don’t push your naptime until too late in the day.
  • Make it count: If you’re going to nap, create a restful environment so you can sleep well. A quiet, dark room will make you more likely to get the rest you need.
  • Consider the rest of the day: Don’t nap if you need to do something that requires a great deal of alertness afterward. For example, if you wake up feeling groggy, you may not be alert enough to drive safely or complete a tough work project.

Can naps be harmful?

If you feel as though you can’t make it through the day without a nap even after spending enough time in bed, it can indicate a problem.

Short, infrequent naps can sometimes be helpful, but long naps can do more harm than good. They can cause the following issues:

  • Sleep inertia: You may feel groggy after waking up from a long nap and be more lethargic than you were before falling asleep.
  • Nighttime sleep problems: You may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at night, leading you to feel tired the next day and end up craving another nap.
  • Masking a health problem: Under normal circumstances, if you’re getting around eight hours of good sleep a night, you’ll wake up feeling fairly refreshed. Some people need more and some need less, but in general, this amount of sleep will allow you to function well the next day. If you find that you routinely need a nap to make it through the day – even after spending enough time in bed at night – you may have an issue like sleep apnea or another health-related problem that’s causing you to be overly tired during the day.
  • Interfering with a sleep study: Your doctor may suggest that you undergo a sleep study in order to get precise data about exactly what happens to your body throughout the night. This will give him or her data about your movements, breathing, heart rate, and more to confirm or rule out the presence of a sleep disorder. If you nap before your sleep study, however, you may find yourself unable to fall asleep.

If you feel excessively tired during the day, make an appointment with eos sleep today. We’ll help confirm or rule out a sleep disorder and offer the treatment you need to get a good, restful night’s sleep and make the need for a nap a rare occurrence.

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