Dr. Robert Cook - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Robert Cook

Are Naps Bad For You?

Also Known As: a short period of sleep



Short answer

Taking a nap is excellent for you, provided you do not exceed a certain amount of time, at which point your body may go into a deep sleep and disrupt your metabolism.



Long answer

Taking a nap can be extremely beneficial, as it helps your body get back to normal, especially if you missed a few Z's during the previous evening. Taking a midday snooze can help you feel more relaxed, increase your alertness, improve memory, quicken reaction time, and even boost your immune system by reversing the negative hormonal impact of a lack of sleep and restoring levels of interleukin-6, a protein with antiviral properties. 

All these benefits come within 10-20 minutes of a nap - and according to studies on the effects of napping - you shouldn't be snoozing longer than that. According to research, after around 20 minutes, the brain may enter what is known as slow-wave sleep, which is a different way of saying you are in a deep sleep. This often results in the grogginess that people experience when they first wake up from a long nap, a feeling which can last for up to an hour upon waking. 

Studies also suggest that taking long naps may increase the risk of diabetes by putting the metabolism off kilter - however, there are some that attribute this not to the long naps, but to the lack of sleep that precede them. 

Another study, however, done of over 20,000 Greek males showed that those who took naps were 37% less likely to die of heart disease than those who didn't nap. While the left hemisphere of the brain is the more active half during our waking state, it is the right hemisphere which takes over during our sleeping state. Some believe that naps help improve our cognition and memory because the right side is "cleaning house" so to speak, doing tasks such as transporting our short-term memories to our long-term memory bank. 

So long as naps are kept to between 10-20 minutes, they can have several beneficial effects. Sleeping longer than that risks going into a deep sleep and throwing off your metabolism. Also, keep in mind that naps are a good remedy for lack of sleep at night, but not a cure.

Possible short-term side effects

  • grogginess
  • disorientation
  • feeling even more sleepy (when nap exceeds 20 minutes)

Possible long-term side effects

  • napping for too long may put the metabolism off kilter

Big are naps bad for you 2


  • improves memory
  • improves alertness
  • quickens reaction time
  • restores levels of interleukin-6
  • boosts immune system
  • reduces risk of death by heart disease

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Written by Jeff Volling | 02-22-2016

Written by Jeff Volling
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