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Sleepy? Afternoon Naps Can Actually Be Good For Your Health

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Sleeping during the day, or on the job, gets a pretty bad rap.

But taking a nap may actually be good for you, even healthy. As CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reports, there are good naps and not-so-good ones.

It turns out, we’re biologically programmed to hit an energy low in the afternoon – sometime between 1 and 3 p.m. Planning to nap during that period is good, but falling asleep involuntarily is not.

You’ve probably experienced that so-called valley of fatigue in the afternoon, especially after a nice lunch. Pretty soon, all you can think about is closing your eyes for a little.

“I absolutely need to take a nap,” Angelo Gonzalez said.

“A good nap will get you energized again, recharged,” Gladys Gonzalez added.

She’s right. There’s good, scientific evidence that a nap does recharge.

“If you take a 20 minute nap, there is evidence to show that it will improve your performance, improve your alertness, will prevent mistakes, accidents and potentially even improve mood for those that have that as a problem,” said Dr. Neomi Shah, a sleep physician at Mount Sinai Health’s Icahn School of Medicine.

The key, though, is that they are planned naps, as opposed to what are called involuntary naps.

“Involuntary nodding or periods where you’re just feeling excessively sleepy – that is indicating someone who’s excessively sleepy, most likely from sleep deprivation but also from sleep disorders,” she said. “That is really not a nap, because you don’t get a chance to get into sleep stages on a consistent basis, because you’re waking up. So it’s fragmented.”

A good nap isn’t longer than 30 to 40 minutes, or you risk waking up groggy, not refreshed. And don’t nap too late in the day. You’ll have trouble falling asleep that night.

The hard part, though, is convincing your boss that a nap is a positive thing.

“Invite him to take a nap as well, so he can see the joy that comes from napping,” Antioni Parker suggested.

If you can manage that, Shah says to find a cool, quiet and dark place to take a nap. That’s how you’ll get refreshed.

As for involuntary naps, those can be dangerous if they happen while you’re driving or doing something that requires alertness.

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