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Good sleep, bad sleep! The role of daytime naps in healthy adults

Dhand, Rajiva,b; Sohal, Harjyotb

Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine: November 2006 - Volume 12 - Issue 6 - p 379–382
doi: 10.1097/01.mcp.0000245703.92311.d0
Sleep and respiratory neurobiology

Purpose of review: Millions of people all over the world take a nap during the day. People nap out of habit, because they are sleep-deprived as a result of a sleep disorder, or after a long work shift. Individuals of all age groups, from infants to the elderly, indulge in an afternoon nap. This review examines the benefits and drawbacks of daytime naps in healthy adults.

Recent findings: A nap during the afternoon restores wakefulness and promotes performance and learning. Several investigators have shown that napping for as short as 10 min improves performance. Naps of less than 30 min duration confer several benefits, whereas longer naps are associated with a loss of productivity and sleep inertia. Recent epidemiological studies indicate that frequent and longer naps may lead to adverse long-term health effects.

Summary: A nap of less than 30 min duration during the day promotes wakefulness and enhances performance and learning ability. In contrast, the habit of taking frequent and long naps may be associated with higher morbidity and mortality, especially among the elderly. The benefits of napping could be best obtained by training the body and mind to awaken after a short nap.

aHarry S. Truman VA Hospital, Columbia, Missouri, USA

bDivision of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Environmental Medicine, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, USA

Correspondence to Rajiv Dhand, MD, FCCP, FACP, FAARC, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Environmental Medicine, MA-421, Health Science Center, 1 Hospital Drive, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65212, USA Tel: +1 573 884 7806; fax: +1 573 884 4892; e-mail: dhandr@health.missouri.edu

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.