napAccording to a sleep specialist, it’s okay to take a nap.

A short nap — 10 to 20 minutes is optimal for most people — can be restorative, says Michael Silber, M.B.Ch.B., co-director of the Center for Sleep Medicine at Mayo Clinic’s campus in Rochester.

“There’s a general belief that sleep is unnecessary, that we’re wasting time because there’s too much to do,” says Dr. Silber in an interview in the October issue of Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource.

But most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep a night to feel refreshed. A nap can help when work or family demands prevent adequate sleep, says Dr. Silber.

However, he cautions that a nap that’s too long or too late in the day might backfire. The optimal time for a nap varies for each individual, but 10-20 minutes in the early afternoon is considered optimal.

Sleep too long and you could wake up feeling groggy, disoriented and not at peak performance. The medical term for this feeling is sleep inertia. It’s probably the result of waking up in the deep stage of the sleep cycle. And a nap too late in the day can interfere with nighttime sleep.

So how do you know if you are getting adequate sleep? “If you’re yawning, can’t keep your eyes open or are involuntarily dozing off at times, you’re probably getting insufficient sleep at night,” says Dr. Silber. The best remedy is more nighttime sleep. When that’s not possible, take a nap.

If more nighttime sleep and naps don’t resolve daytime sleepiness, check with a doctor about underlying medical problems that could contribute to daytime sleepiness such as sleep apnea or narcolepsy.

Source: Mayo Clinic