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Napping comes in many different guises, such as a siesta, forty winks, a snooze and more. Despite the different names, they are all just essentially short periods of daytime sleep, which are designed to give you an immediate burst of energy to help get you through the rest of the day.
If you've had a busy day, you may often find yourself yearning for a quick sleep to help you make it to the end of the day. If you constantly feel like this, you may need to make more a significant change in your sleeping patterns, but feeling the need to nap occasionally is perfectly healthy. Plus, napping can be beneficial to your productivity and concentration.
As a rule, a nap should only last around 15-20 minutes. If you sleep for much longer than this, then you will fall into deep sleep, meaning you will feel groggy and perhaps even more tired than before the nap. As long as you keep the nap short, in which you will only enter NREM1 or NREM2 stages of sleep, you will feel immediately revitalised for at least a short period of time.
These short naps are often called 'power naps', as they are designed to give you more energy, and while it may be difficult to find an appropriate place to sleep, they can be useful in the workplace. Siestas are common place in Mediterranean countries, and napping at work is becoming more commonplace in Japan.
While one short nap a day is fine, any more could be a sign that you are sleep deprived. Napping exclusively to gain your daily amount of sleep (a practice known as 'polyphasic sleeping') is also potentially dangerous and largely untested. People with insomnia and similar sleep disorders should avoid napping, as it may further affect night-time sleep patterns.
Napping isn't for everyone, as many people will find they simply don’t feel the need for one, but if you do need one, it does not necessarily mean you have any problems with your sleep routine. Simply listen to what your body is telling you, and you should gain enough sleep to get you through the day.
A daily nap can be a perfectly healthy part of your life. As long as you avoid falling into a longer, deeper daytime sleep you will feel the benefits with a quick boost of energy, and your regular night-time sleep will be unaffected.