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Can Naps Replace A Good Night’s Sleep?

Sleep deprivation is a common problem. Whether it’s work, children, or your own mind keeping you awake at night, getting a full 8 hours of rest is increasingly uncommon. There’s almost nothing you can do to replace lost sleep, but some evidence suggests naps may help.

Unless you have extra time at home during the day to hit the sack, you’re probably not able to take a nap. For those lucky enough to have the option, is it better to do so? Sometimes you wake up feeling even worse after a nap!

Research isn’t completely conclusive, because sleep is a complex topic. It’s hard to monitor someone’s sleep accurately, and everyone’s sleep needs are different. Some people only need 5 or 6 hours per night, while others need 8 or 9.

A study published in Sleep Medicine looked at trends in nap research to determine how healthy it truly is. Interestingly, young people and older people had different reactions to naps. They found that in young people, taking a midday nap helped boost cognitive performance. People who took naps were better at things like memory retention, learning, and processing emotions.

On the other hand, research on older people found that naps could actually be harmful. They found links, but no direct proof, that napping increased the risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, and cognitive decline.

In the end, the researchers admit that they still can’t wholeheartedly recommend naps for everyone to boost their health. More research needs to be done. However, they note that the sleep you get during a nap is different than the sleep you get at night. That means it can’t be a complete replacement for losing sleep.

Sleeping in occasionally won’t make up for the sleep you lost either, at least not in the short term. It can take weeks of proper sleep to make up for a few rough nights, researchers suggest.

Another problem with napping is that it gives you a false sense of having slept. It can make you feel like you don’t actually need to sleep a full night and that you can rely on naps to make up for it. That’s not the case, however, so try to get a full night’s sleep as often as you can.

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