Benefits of Napping When You’re Sick
It can be hard to feel truly rested when you’re feeling symptoms of a cold or the flu. You might be up all night with a stuffy nose or an annoying cough that just won’t quit. Sleep deprivation is associated with decreased physical performance and alertness, and may even negatively influence health and longevity.1 While getting too much sleep during the day is generally frowned upon due to its potential interference with nighttime sleep and may even be indicative of a larger health condition, naps have shown to help balance a sleep debt.2,3
If you don’t receive adequate sleep for days due to your cold or flu, you accumulate what’s called sleep debt.3 As sleep debt builds, your brain and body’s ability to function properly deteriorates and sleep is needed to “pay down” this debt.2 You may experience sleep debt on long, international flights that span multiple time zones, or if you stayed up late multiple nights in a row but still woke up early.
Thankfully, daytime naps can help balance the effects of illness-based sleep debt and protect you from the adverse effects of sleep loss.1
While napping when you have the cold or the flu can make you feel a little better, it may not be the best way to truly combat the effects of sleep loss.4 When your body enters deep sleep, it reaps the greatest benefit in terms of restoration, but most naps aren’t long enough for your body to access those benefits.4
If you choose to take a daytime nap when you’re not feeling your best, these tips can help you get the most out of your nap:4
- Keep your naps short so you don’t feel groggy afterward.
- Limit your naps to the early afternoon, if possible, so they don’t disrupt your ability to fall asleep at a normal time.
- Choose a sleep-friendly environment that’s cool and comfortable without bright lights or screens.
If sleepless nights due to flu symptoms are making you want to nap all day, reach for a product that’s specially formulated for nighttime relief like Theraflu Nighttime Flu Relief Max Strength Hot Liquid Powder.
- The effects of sleep deprivation on sleepiness, performance, stress and immune system. National Library of Medicine. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20666119/. Accessed 5/9/23.
- Sleep tips: 6 steps to better sleep. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/sleep/art-20048379. Accessed 5/9/23.
- Sleep Debt. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/emres/longhourstraining/debt.html. Accessed 5/9/23.
- For Adults: To Nap or Not to Nap? University of Rochester Medical Center. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=1&contentid=4707. Accessed 5/9/23.