23 Mar 2017

Naps and sleep disorders: should I or shouldn’t I?

It's the middle of the afternoon and your eyelids are drooping. After a difficult night's sleep, you can barely stay awake at your desk, but you think you have the solution: a power nap could be just the thing to get you going again. 

Perhaps you've heard that naps can be good for you, and quick pick-me-up during a long day. So, what harm is there in laying your head down for a few minutes? 

If you look hard enough you’ll find plenty of advice suggesting that there are health benefits of napping, such as feeling more energised and improving your mood and stress levels1.

Unfortunately, if you suffer from sleep apnea or insomnia, that little power nap may do more harm than good. The health benefits of napping do not necessarily extend to people who suffer from certain sleep disorders. In fact, napping can actually worsen your symptoms and inadvertently put you into a vicious sleep cycle that can exacerbate your condition2

Follow up CPAP therapy checkups

Here are some simple guidelines to follow if you suffer from certain sleep disorders and are thinking about taking a nap to get you through the day:

Sleep Apnea and naps

For those with sleep apnea, any sleep without wearing your CPAP equipment is likely to result in apneas. This includes power naps. If you decide a nap is necessary, be sure to wear your CPAP equipment. If you don't have your CPAP equipment on hand, then try to skip the nap.

For those who are new to CPAP, skipping that afternoon nap can also make it easier to adjust to your new equipment. You want it to become second nature sleeping with it on. Therefore, the more tired you are at bedtime, the easier it might be to fall asleep. This may help ease the adjustment period while you get used to wearing your CPAP equipment. 

Insomnia and napping

When you suffer from insomnia, those daytime naps are extra tempting. Unfortunately, they may perpetuate a cycle of nighttime insomnia and daytime napping. The more you sleep during the day, the less tired you will be at night, which may increase your insomnia symptoms. This, in turn, makes you crave a nap during the day. When you give in, the cycle continues.

It is important for those suffering from insomnia to establish a regular sleep routine with the focus on nighttime sleeping4. This means avoiding napping during the day. Avoiding naps also creates a sleep debt, which is helpful in falling asleep at night. That, of course, is every insomniac's main goal.

Not sure if you have a sleep disorder? It is easy to find out. If you regularly find yourself yearning for a nap during the day, you may suffer from a sleep disorder. Take our 60 second sleep assessment to determine if you may be struggling with a sleep disorder.

 Take ResSleep's FREE sleep assessmentGet a better understanding of your sleep issues with a free sleep assessment.

References

  1. Napping. Sleep Health Foundation: https://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/pdfs/Napping-0913.pdf
  2. Sleep Disorders and Problems. Helguide.org: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/sleep-disorders-and-sleeping-problems.htm
  3. Narcolepsy Self Care. Harvard University: http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/narcolepsy/treating-narcolepsy/self-care
  4. Establishing a Sleep Schedule Is First Priority In Any Insomnia Treatment Program. Insomnia Free: http://www.insomnia-free.com/sleep-schedule.html
  5. An Overview of Sleep Disorders. Harvard University: http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/getting/treatment/an-overview-of-sleep-disorders