Avoid taking long naps
How napping affects our sleep
While naps can be a great thing for healthy sleepers, if you have problems falling asleep and staying asleep, then most sleep experts agree that long naps can make your sleep rhythms worse and make it harder to go to sleep that night. This is because we all have a certain amount of sleep we need each day. This is called a sleep allowance or a sleep bank. When you nap for longer than about half an hour, you are taking sleep time out of your nighttime sleep need.
As you can see in the above graph: the top chart represents healthy sleep, without a nap, and the bottom graph represents what happens to our rhythms when we take a nap. As can be seen by the change in your sleep drive (the arrows pointing down), taking a nap reduces your sleep drive, which then makes you more alert during the night time when you should be tired.
Taking a nap, especially a long one, will make it harder to fall asleep at your bedtime and/or stay asleep. It can also shift your circadian rhythm later, making it hard to fall asleep and wake up for several days in a row. Therefore, it is important to avoid long naps, if at all possible. This rule will help your body to acquire a consistent sleep rhythm so that you feel drowsy and ready to sleep at about the same time each night.
People frequently take naps because they think they need to catch up on the sleep they missed or simply because they are tired and think they need a nap to get through the day. If you often feel the need to nap in the early afternoon, this is a normal part of the circadian rhythm called the “post-lunch dip.” It’s OK to take a short nap during this time, and this is a popular practice in many cultures. The problem comes in when your naps last for over 30 minutes. Make sure to set an alarm by changing the wake up time in the SleepSpace app to help you wake up from a nap, in order to ensure you keep it brief. Another option is to try to get active and get some light exposure during times you think you need to nap. The best way to do this is going for a walk outside, if at all possible. This will increase alertness and help you sleep better at night. If you can’t go outside, another option is to sit by the window or your LIFX Smart bulb which will be illuminated at full brightness during this time.