To Nap or Not to Nap: Are Naps Bad for Your Nighttime Sleep?

We’re all been guilty of closing our eyes for just a minute, or dozing off after a filling lunch, and before we know it, we wake up feeling groggy and disoriented. Sometimes we may even intentionally fall asleep in the middle of the day to help with a headache or simply because we’re too exhausted. It’s funny how some days, nothing beats a good nap, but other days, you wake up feeling like you were steamrolled by a train. 

Sleep has so many benefits for our health, from our cognitive development to our skin all the way to our hair. That’s right — a major deciding factor in hair growth is the sleep you get every night. That’s because while you sleep, your body is busy repairing and healing itself, including new hair cells. 

So where do naps fit into all this? Do they actually help your overall sleep quality and hair growth? Or are naps the secret culprit keeping you up at night? 

The Power in Power Naps: Pros of Naps

Well, they call them “power naps” for a reason, right? So what’s the benefits of napping? 

  1. Enhanced alertness: Short naps have been shown to provide a quick boost in alertness and performance. The brief duration allows individuals to enter the lightest stage of sleep, avoiding the grogginess from longer naps or deep sleep.
  2. Enhanced mood and emotional well-being: Napping has been linked to improved mood and emotional well-being. A quick nap can serve as a reset button, helping you approach the rest of the day with a more positive outlook.
  3. Improved cognitive function: Napping has demonstrated positive effects on cognitive functions such as memory, learning, and problem solving. Studies indicate that a well-timed nap can enhance creativity and improve overall mental clarity, making it especially valuable for those participating in mentally demanding tasks.
  4. Increased productivity: Many believe that napping is a counterproductive use of time, but research suggests that it can enhance overall productivity. Short naps can lead to increased focus, allowing individuals to tackle tasks with renewed energy and efficiency.
  5. Physical rejuvenation: While primarily known for cognitive benefits, naps also contribute to physical rejuvenation by providing a brief period of rest for the body. In fact, research on athletes found that naps can help with physical recovery post-workouts. 
  6. Stress reduction: Short naps can actually be a form of self-care since they contribute to stress reduction by providing a brief escape from the demands of the day. The relaxation during a nap helps regulate stress hormones, promoting a more balanced emotional state.

The Wrong Side of the Bed: Cons of Naps

Based on the list above, there’s lots of benefits to naps! But like anything, there’s potential downsides too. So what are the cons of napping?

  1. Circadian rhythm disturbance: Naps can influence the body's circadian rhythm, the internal clock that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Long or irregular naps may confuse this natural rhythm, leading to issues with an inconsistent sleep schedule.
  2. Nighttime sleep disruption: One of the main problems with napping is how it can affect your sleep at night. Extended or late-afternoon naps, in particular, may interfere with your ability to fall asleep at your typical bedtime. 
  3. Potential disruption for insomniacs: Those with insomnia or other sleep disorders may find that napping worsens their nighttime sleep difficulties. This connects back to the circadian rhythm disruption, as well as potentially sleeping too close to bedtime or for too long of a duration for your body to adjust. 
  4. Reliance on naps: Regular, unplanned napping might lead to a dependency, where you feel the need to nap daily to combat fatigue. Developing a reliance on naps can be counterproductive, as it may indicate an underlying issue with nighttime sleep quality or overall sleep hygiene.
  5. Sleep inertia: Longer naps can result in a phenomenon known as sleep inertia, characterized by a period of grogginess and reduced alertness immediately after waking up. If a nap is not timed right, grogginess can last throughout the day and counteract the goal of the nap in the first place.
  6. Workplace or academic challenges: In certain professional or academic settings, taking naps during the day may not be practical or acceptable. Consider the expectations of your environment before incorporating naps into your routine to avoid potential social or professional consequences.

Factors to Consider Before Napping

With the pluses and minuses in mind, there’s certain factors that can affect whether the nap benefits or harms your overall well-being. Keeping these in mind will help ensure napping aligns with your sleep and health goals. 

  • Short and strategic: Aim for short naps, typically lasting between 10 to 30 minutes, to maximize the benefits without entering deeper stages of sleep. Longer naps may lead to sleep inertia and disrupt nighttime sleep. If you do take a longer nap, keep your sleep cycle in mind. Plan for 90 minutes to complete a full cycle vs. waking up mid-cycle. 
  • Time of day: Consider the time of day for your nap. Mid-afternoon, around 2 to 3 pm, is often considered an ideal window since it syncs with the natural dip in alertness that many people experience at that time.
  • Individual variability: Every person’s body is different, so it’s best to try it out for yourself! The ideal nap duration and timing varies from person to person. Some find that a short nap invigorates them, while others might need a slightly longer nap to feel refreshed. 
  • Night owls vs. early birds: Take into account your natural sleep tendencies. Night owls might benefit from a later afternoon nap, while early birds may find midday napping more suitable.

What About Naps for Hair Growth?

When done right, naps can add to the overall benefits of sleep for your hair growth and health. That’s because sleep, including napping, plays a crucial role in bodily processes that support your hair, including hormonal balance, stress reduction, repairing, and nutritional absorption. 

Here’s a breakdown of how sleep helps:

  • Sleeping, which includes naps, helps maintain hormonal balance. Hormones such as melatonin, growth hormone, and cortisol are intricately tied to the sleep-wake cycle. Well-regulated hormonal levels support not only general health but also contribute to the conditions conducive to optimal hair growth.
  • Naps also offer a brief yet impactful window for your body to engage in cellular repair and rejuvenation. During sleep, the body undergoes processes that repair tissues, regulate metabolic functions, and strengthen the immune system. These reparative processes extend to the hair follicles, providing the foundation for healthy and resilient strands.
  • Enough sleep, aided by well-timed naps, plays a pivotal role in stress reduction. Chronic stress can disrupt hormonal balance and trigger hair loss. By incorporating the occasional nap into your routine, you can help reduce stress levels and foster a healthier environment for your hair to thrive.
  • Quality sleep aids in optimizing the absorption of essential nutrients, including those crucial for hair health. Naps, when integrated into a balanced sleep routine, can enhance the body's ability to absorb and utilize these nutrients and provide a positive impact on the vibrancy of your hair.

Tips for Healthy Sleep 

Establish a Consistent Sleep Schedule

  • Prioritize regular bedtimes: Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even if you take a nap during the day. Consistency reinforces your body's internal clock, promoting better sleep quality.
  • Avoid weekend oversleep: While catching up on sleep during the weekend can be tempting, it can disrupt your routine. Strive for consistency throughout the week.
  • Mindful napping: If you incorporate naps into your routine, be strategic about their timing and duration to avoid interfering with your nighttime sleep. Keep naps, especially longer ones, earlier in the day to minimize the risk of disrupting your established sleep schedule.

Eat Well and Exercise Regularly

  • Mindful eating: Be conscious of your food and drink intake, especially close to bedtime. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, heavy meals, and nicotine, as they can interfere with sleep.
  • Regular exercise: Engage in regular physical activity, but time it wisely. Exercising earlier in the day promotes better sleep, while vigorous exercise close to bedtime may have the opposite effect.

Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine and Environment

  • Wind down rituals: Establish calming pre-sleep rituals to signal to your body that it's time to relax. This could include practicing relaxation techniques, reading a book, or taking a warm bath.
  • Limit screen time: Minimize exposure to screens, such as phones and computers, at least an hour before bedtime. The blue light emitted from these devices can interfere with the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin.
  • Comfortable sleep space: Ensure your bedroom is conducive to sleep — cool, dark, and quiet. Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows to enhance overall sleep quality. Our Silk Beauty Pillowcase can give your hair and skin some TLC for better rest. 
  • Manage noise and light: Consider using earplugs, an eye mask, or blackout curtains to create an environment free of disruptive stimuli.

Try Our Beauty Sleep Complex

Beauty Sleep Complex — Nighttime sleep aid with all-natural ingredients

If you need extra help getting quality your much-needed rest, HAIRLOVE’s Beauty Sleep Complex is a natural sleep aid that can support your sleep quality so you wake up feeling energized and refreshed. The easy-to-take capsule works quickly to soothe you to sleep, and uses all-natural ingredients to support your sleep, mood, metabolism, energy, and mental clarity.

Final Verdict: To Nap or Not to Nap? 

After all this, you might be wondering, are naps a good idea? It depends on each individual, but yes, when approached mindfully, naps can be completely beneficial!

Although naps can cause issues when they are overly long or disrupt your nighttime sleep schedule, napping can offer a range of benefits from improved cognitive function to stress reduction. But remember, the key is strategic napping — keeping them short, timed appropriately, and avoiding interference with your nighttime sleep cycle. 

In the pursuit of luscious locks and overall well-being, the answer is to find a balanced approach to sleep that fits you. Napping can be a valuable tool, but it's essential to harmonize it with a consistent sleep schedule, good nutrition and exercise, and a relaxing bedtime routine. Quality sleep, whether during the night or in well-timed naps, is the cornerstone of a lifestyle that promotes vibrant hair.