The Rumor: Napping during the day will keep you up at night

Whenever I take a nap, I wake up feeling refreshed but worry that the extra Z’s will come back to haunt me later that night. Will my husband be sawing logs in blissful -- if sinus-challenged -- slumber while I stare at the ceiling? 

The Verdict: You can doze in the afternoon and still sleep easy at night… as long as you don't nap too long

Sleep gurus agree that napping is good for you when done correctly. “Expert clinicians prescribe power naps of 20 to 30 minutes,” says sleep expert and upwave review-board member Russell Sanna, Ph.D. “This allows you to have some restorative aspects without going through the full cycle of stages of REM sleep.”

The reason is simple, yet scientific: If you sleep for too long in the middle of the day, you’ll interfere with your body’s natural circadian rhythms, which manage your sleep cycle. This may not sound like something to lose sleep over, but whacked-out circadian rhythms are linked to obesity, diabetes, bipolar disorder and depression, among other things. 

On a more immediate level, research shows that a 10- to 20-minute nap will perk you up without keeping you up until all hours of the night. It will also help you function at a higher level for the rest of the afternoon. But doze too far past the 30-minute mark, and you’re likely to be counting sheep until the wee hours of the morning.

One caveat: Even brief naps can cause problems if you're dealing with insomnia. Napping can further alter your already-irregular circadian rhythms, which, in turn, can make falling (and staying) asleep at night even more difficult. 

So unless you already have trouble sleeping, take a nap to manage your fatigue -- just remember to make it short and sweet. Happy napping!

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