I have never liked naps. I hate how I feel when I wake up from an afternoon nap, I usually will get a headache and feel groggy for a long time (my husband claims I get grouchy, but that’s just silly right?). Then I have trouble getting to sleep that night. Which makes me tired the next day, and I think about taking a nap again. Not a good cycle for me. While naps can be really good for healthy adults, those with sleep problems need to think seriously about how they nap.
When I was going through the process of figuring out what was wrong with me, I saw a Rheumatologist. She was very matter of fact, told me not to let fibromyalgia ruin my life. We talked briefly about my sleep habits and she gave me some advice. Don’t nap. Go to bed early and at the same time each night, wake up at the same time each morning. And don’t go back to bed after you’ve been up. When I follow that advice I have more energy, my mind is clearer and I feel better. I feel more normal. However, it is VERY tempting after I get up at 7am to get kids off to school to hop back in my warm bed for a couple more hours of sleep. Mostly because I’ve stayed up too late the night before. But after that morning nap it takes me even more time to feel awake, and I’m usually in more pain (you know, the “I’ve been hit by a truck” kind of pain when you first wake up) Why would I want to go through that twice a day instead of just once? So the first step for me in creating a healthy sleep routine is to not nap.
If you ARE going to nap, here are some healthy tips to do it right from Mayo Clinic
- Keep naps short. Aim to nap for only 10 to 30 minutes. The longer you nap, the more likely you are to feel groggy afterward.
- Take naps in the afternoon. The best time for a nap is usually midafternoon, around 2 or 3 p.m. This is the time of day when you might experience post-lunch sleepiness or a lower level of alertness. In addition, naps taken during this time are less likely to interfere with nighttime sleep. Keep in mind, however, that individual factors — such as your need for sleep and your sleeping schedule — also can play a role in determining the best time of day to nap.
- Create a restful environment. Nap in a quiet, dark place with a comfortable room temperature and few distractions.
- After napping, be sure to give yourself time to wake up before resuming activities — particularly those that require a quick or sharp response.
It’s up to you to figure out what works best for your sleep routine. Naps are worth evaluating to see if you can improve your sleep at night. You and your Dr. know how your body works, everyone is different. But is what you are currently doing really working for you? Or does something need to change?