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Does Afternoon Nap Cause Weight Gain?

All of us are familiar with the strong feeling of sleepiness during the mid-afternoon. You have had a full lunch and the weather seems too comfy for a quick snuggle in the bed, especially now that we are all working from, the chances you can take a quick afternoon nap is high.

The sleepy feeling is normal and is caused by a natural dip in alertness from about 1 to 3 pm [1]. Taking the time for a brief nap will relieve the sleepiness almost immediately and also help improve your alertness for several hours after waking.

In this article, we will look at the ways napping can impact your health and productivity, with a focus on the topic of weight gain.


Benefits Of Napping

Napping not only help you feel less sleepy and more alert but also help improve your cognitive functioning, short-term memory and your mood [2]. Here are some of the health benefits of napping:

  • Helps boost memory
  • Reduces high blood pressure levels [3]
  • Pacifies the nerves
  • Improves creativity
  • Improves your mood
  • Promotes better performance including quicker reaction time and improved memory [4]
  • Lowers risk of heart disease [5]
  • Reduces fatigue
  • Keeps your body relaxed [6]

How Long Can A Nap Be?

It is ideal to take a nap for 1.5 hours, which is the length of a normal sleep cycle [7]. The 1.5 hours of napping works in this way where you will experience deep sleep for about an hour or so followed by light sleep for the last half an hour [8].

It is best to wake up during the last hours of your napping because, during the light sleep, you can wake up feeling refreshed and alert - thereby getting rid of that heavy sleepy feeling. However, if you sleep for too long (more than 2 hours), chances are you will wake up feeling sluggish and drowsy [9].

If you think you are up for it, you can have a brief power nap of 10-15 minutes, which can improve alertness, cognitive performance and mood almost immediately after waking [10]. Power naps will not make you feel drowsy because, during this 10-15 minutes, your body does not go into any sleep but refreshes your mind and body. An early-to-mid-afternoon nap helps you rejuvenate better when compared to naps at any other time of the day - pointing out that afternoon naps are the best [11].

But simply taking a nap would not help you wake up feeling refreshed, that is, taking a nap after a heavy lunch will not do your body any good but only harm.


Does Afternoon Nap Cause Weight Gain

As aforementioned, afternoon naps can be good for your mind and your health - when done in the right way. However, taking a nap right after having a heavy lunch may not be the best idea. Why? Let's check out.

First of all, it is not the afternoon nap that is causing the weight gain but the habit of sliding down to your bed immediately after having lunch. Sleeping burns lesser calories than sitting or standing but that does not mean that you avoid sleeping - while your body requires a minimum of 8 hours sleep for its healthy functioning, decreased hours of sleeping can lead to weight gain, especially when it is combined with a heavy meal [12][13].

We all grew up listening to our mothers telling us not to lie down with a full stomach and they were right. Lying down disturbs the digestion process and causes acid reflux as well. When you lie down immediately after having lunch and fall asleep, you are not giving your body enough time to initiate the digestion process and start burning some fats [14].

According to health experts, one should always maintain at least 1-2 hours of gap between meals and nap time so as to avoid an increase in weight. Because, during this time, your body can digest the food and burn the fats, without it being stored in your body, causing weight gain [15].


Get The Best Out Of Your Nap Time

Following these steps will help get the most out of your nap, without interfering with your sleep at night [16].

  • Take a nap between 2 pm and 3 pm - it is when your body's energy is at the lowest.
  • Make sure your nap does not exceed 20-30 minutes.
  • Pick a spot that is comfortable and help promote sleep.
  • Do not drink caffeine before taking a nap.

On A Final Note…

Feel like taking a nap in the afternoon? Don't feel guilty, do it, it is good for you. Sleeping itself is not the cause of weight gain but the way and the time you do it. While napping for 2 hours is good for your health, getting some extra shut-eye, especially after a heavy lunch can easily lead to unhealthy weight gain.

In addition, it also depends on the lifestyle of the individual because taking a brisk walk after lunch and getting some nap time would not lead to excessive weight gain as the fat gets burned during the walk.

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