A new study found that taking naps may help your brain process information it receives unconsciously. The Journal of Sleep Research study suggests what a person perceives unconsciously is processed during sleep, and naps may aid a person's decision-making when he or she is awake.
In this Mayo Clinic Minute, Jeff Olsen speaks with Dr. Eric J. Olson, a Mayo Clinic sleep specialist, about the upsides and downsides of naps.
Journalists: Broadcast-quality video pkg (1:00) is in the downloads at the end of the post.
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Catnapper, take note. Your break should be quick.
"A short nap strikes that balance between allowing you to be refreshed without giving you that hangover effect from the sleep," says Dr. Olson.
He says longer naps can take you into deeper stages of sleep.
"And, with that, then, it's harder to get going when you awaken," says Dr. Olson.
Doctors call it "sleep inertia." Keeping your nap under 30 minutes can help avoid it. Dr. Olson says the need for a longer nap may be a sign of nighttime sleep trouble. Your schedule, diet or bedtime routine all could be causes.
"Or is there suspicion of a sleep disorder that's interfering with what seems like should be an adequate amount of time in bed," says Dr. Olson.
A sleep study can identify a disorder and lead to treatment. Sleep specialists also can suggest improvement to bedtime habits. Getting help with your sleep can make napping simply refreshing instead of required.