Two published studies conclude it is not.

First, the details.
Study 1:

  • 414 community-dwelling older adults participated.
  • They completed a questionnaire on napping and sleep that was derived from the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) scale.
    • PSQI measures sleep quality during the previous month to identify good and poor sleepers.

Study 2:

  • 100 elderly individuals who napped participated.
  • 12 days of sleep diary entries and actigraphy provided napping and sleep data.
    • Actigraphy is a relatively non-invasive way to monitor human rest/activity cycles.

And the results from Study 1:

  • 54% of participants reported napping.
  • The average nap duration was 55 minutes.
  • Nappers were significantly more likely to be male, African American, and have diabetes mellitus than non-nappers.
  • Nappers and non-nappers had similar nighttime sleep duration and quality.
  • Napping was greater among people with diabetes mellitus and men.
  • Among nappers, diabetes mellitus, male sex, higher body mass index, and lower Mini-Mental State Examination score were independently and significantly associated with longer nap duration.

The results from Study 2:

  • Evening naps (within 2 hours of bedtime) were typical among the participants.
  • But no participants napped during the evening only.
  • Day-and-evening nappers had significantly shorter sleep onset latencies (time before getting to sleep), less awakening after sleep onset, and higher sleep efficiencies (ratio of total sleep time to time in bed) vs daytime-only nappers.

The bottom line?
Napping is a common practice in community-dwelling older adults and doesn’t detract from nighttime sleep duration or quality.

The authors of the second study, who are from University of Florida in Gainesville, concluded that “Elimination or restriction of napping is a common element of cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia. These results suggest that a uniform recommendation to restrict or eliminate napping (particularly evening napping) may not meet the needs of all older individuals with insomnia.”

10/1/08 20:28 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.