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Can taking naps make up for lack of sleep?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Naps don't make up for loss of restorative sleep time because they are usually shorter than the time you need to reach slow-wave sleep. You need both rapid-eye-movement sleep and slow-wave sleep to feel refreshed, and these two kinds of sleep require a period of continuous sleep before they start. I don't know why our systems were made this way, but we can't get right into slow-wave sleep or rapid-eye-movement sleep without a period of regular sleep first. (Although naps can give you more short-term energy, they don't restore your energy long term, nor do they reverse the aging that a lack of sleep causes.)
Alon Avidan, MD
Neurology
Taking naps doesn't can't make up for lack of sleep at night. Sleep is not a bank account. Sleeping five hours at night and taking a two hour nap doesn't add up to seven nighttime hours of sleep. Sleep is ideally best to be taken during the night.

Also, if a nap is longer than 15 or 20 minutes, it's not a good idea. The power nap is ideally between 15 and 20 minutes between 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. If the nap is longer than 30 minutes, people are more likely to wake up groggy from it. If a nap is taken too late, people are going to have problems with insomnia.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.