In brief: Naps have gotten a bum rap

In brief

Naps have gotten a bum rap

If you have trouble sleeping at night, you may want to try incorporating some shuteye into your daytime routine.

A few studies — including one in the January 2005 Journal of the American Geriatric Society — have called into question the common belief that napping spoils nighttime sleep. This study monitored 32 healthy people, ages 55–85, for two separate three-night, three-day sessions. On nap days, participants were allowed to sleep for two hours during the day. Although everyone was allotted the same two hours, some spent as little as 12 minutes asleep, while others snoozed almost all of that time. On the non-nap days, study subjects could rest but weren't allowed to sleep during the day.

The nappers got more total sleep on their nap days. And on the following day, they scored better on tests of reasoning, reaction time, and perception. The only effect that napping had on nighttime sleep was increasing the time it took to conk out — nappers needed about six minutes longer.

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