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Is Your Afternoon Nap Responsible for The Extra Weight Gain?

napping-and-weight-gain
Last Updated on August 31, 2021 by Ashwini G

Much has been said about afternoon naps or daytime naps in general. A short nap can make you more efficient leading to better performance. It helps you de-stress during the day and gives your brain and body time to recuperate from all the daily demands. The nap gives you an essential time-out session that puts things back in focus without making the day seem too long and tiring. With all the benefits surrounding an afternoon nap, it seems like the ideal lifetime choice to make. However, there are growing concerns that while an afternoon nap might be very healthy for the mind and body, it might lead to an increased weight gain especially when it is indulged in right after your lunch. This article will help you understand the science behind this statement and whether there is any truth to it at all or if it is one of the “trending thoughts” that has no medical roots.

Sleep and Weight – What Is the Connection?

A lot of research has gone into making a connection between sleep and body weight. There is a positive link between short sleep cycles or sleep deprivation and obesity that cannot be ignored. As per the study, obesity is more rampant in people that do not have the required sleep hours clocked in during the 24-hour daily cycle. Overweight people have consistently lower sleep hours with most having approximately 16 minutes of less sleep daily as compared to other people. Moreover, adults that tend to sleep less than 5.5 hours or more than 8.5 hours tend to have a higher body mass index (BMI). This establishes an irrefutable link between your sleep hours, patterns, and your body weight. Further, sleep deprivation reduces the production of Leptin and leads to increased production of the hormone Ghrelin. Leptin is responsible for the fullness feeling you get after eating; it makes you feel satiated so that you do not overeat. On the other hand, Ghrelin is the hunger hormone. This hormone makes you feel hungry. Hence, when you do not get adequate sleep, your body tends to go on a binge mode causing weight gain.

Does Napping Lead to Weight Gain?

There are lots of factors that influence your weight gain. The main reasons are lifestyle choices, genetic, and the type of food you consume that dictates your calorie content. Hence, it is wrong to say that indulging in naps makes you put on weight. It is quite the opposite. Sleep deprivation rather than oversleeping is one of the main causes of obesity. There is little evidence that napping causes weight gain in anybody. You cannot look at sleep in a bubble to ascertain if it is the cause of your weight gain. However, sleep does tend to slow down your metabolic rate. According to research metabolic rate tends to fall by 15% during your sleep. This means that you burn less energy and fats while asleep rather than while you are awake. This sluggishness of your metabolic rate might give the false impression that you are gaining weight because of your afternoon nap.

Reasons to Take That Afternoon Nap

All in all, napping is a very healthy practice. It comes with numerous health benefits for both your physical and mental state. Some of the reasons why you should not skip the afternoon nap but instead make it a habit are as follows:

  • Helps you catch up on your sleep hours
  • Gives you a memory boost
  • Makes you more productive by refreshing your mental focus
  • Improves your mood and performance
  • Reduces the midday fatigue
  • Aids you in making healthy food choices rather than gorging on junk food and sugar-laced snacks.

What Is the Ideal Afternoon Nap Duration?

Generally speaking, a nap should be under an hour. Anything more than an hour would be sleeping rather than napping. You should reserve long naps of over an hour for situations where you are trying to catch up on nighttime sleeping so that your body is getting adequate rest. A short power nap of under 30 minutes tends to be the most beneficial in terms of boosting performance and fighting fatigue. The more you nap the worse your sleep inertia will be. Hence, you need to time your nap duration accordingly to ensure that the napping window does not make you too sluggish and tired afterward. Also, you should avoid napping for an hour post-lunch. This allows your body to process the food and digest it well.

When Should You Nap?

The best window for an afternoon nap is between 1 to 3. This is the time when your body becomes lethargic, and you feel sleepy. The window remains consistent whether you have had lunch or not. You should therefore try to get your lunch finished in time to enjoy this ideal window for a nap. Further, napping between this time frame leads to a combination of REM and light sleep as opposed to napping later than 3 pm which leads to slow-wave sleep and is counter-intuitive to making you more productive.

Wrapping Up

Weight gain is a result of more calorie intake than your body can reasonably burn off during the day. You need to ensure that your food intake is at pace with your calorie-burning metabolic rate. In short, your energy intake needs to balance with your energy expenditure. Afternoon naps are a great way of keeping your cravings at bay with balanced hormonal secretion. Apart from this afternoon naps also make you more energetic which leads to a better lifestyle choice including regular exercise and healthier eating. All of these combines to help reduce weight rather than gain it.

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