Do people say you nap too much?

Do you make excuses such as being awake but closing your eyes just to rest them?

Do you justify naps due to your age or stress?

NOTE: This isn’t about the so-called power nap of only 20 minutes. 

This is about frequent, lengthy naps that take the person away from family activities or opportunities to be productive, active or involved.

Common Excuses for Napping: Falling Asleep During the Day

“I need to lie down for my back.”

“I need to rest my feet; they’re aching from work.”

“I was awake the whole time; my eyes were just strained.”

“I was awake the whole time; I was listening to the show.”

“I got up three times overnight to use the toilet.”

“I was bored.”

“Long naps are healthy.”

Unfortunately, sometimes a spouse will support the napping, a la “Your father works hard all day. He deserves a good long nap whenever he wants.”

The napping even occurs on vacations, enough so that family members may wonder how anyone could sleep so much on a vacation.

“Wake up! Wake up to the dangers of untreated sleep apnea and recognize that excessive daytime sleepiness and the tendency to doze off easily in quiet situations during the day is a typical symptom,” says Daniel Rifkin, MD, a sleep medicine expert at the Sleep Medicine Centers of Western New York.

“Not only can the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea improve your health in so many ways, but its effect on quality of life can be astounding.

“I even had one patient that said to me, ‘Dr. Rifkin, I don’t know if I should thank you or shoot you!’

“Of course I asked why, and he said to me he now knows that he could have been a better husband, employee and even a better father if he was diagnosed with his sleep apnea sooner in life.

“He sadly recalled falling sleep after dinner almost every evening when all his children wanted to do was spend time with him. Don’t be that dad!”

What about aching joints?

Certainly, many people do have back or knee pain, or aching feet from being in bad shoes all day at work.

The solutions are to stay fully awake while treating the condition with therapeutic exercise, hotpacks, hot soaks, coldpacks, a massaging tool or stretching.

If you’re compelled to lie down or recline and close your eyes due to grogginess, even if there’s an ice pack on your knee or hotpack against your back, then you must not ignore the possibility of obstructive sleep apnea.

A fully wide-awake person who had a good night’s sleep is not going to want to go to sleep just to rest their aching feet or throbbing knee.

Stop Making Excuses for Your Naps: You Might Have Sleep Apnea!

If a body part is in pain, this will not cause drowsiness or the inability to keep one’s eyes open. 

Lying down and falling asleep whenever there’s some pain is highly suspect for sleep apnea.

As for telling people you were wide awake the whole time you had your eyes closed, what’s your reason for snoring during that time?

And if repeated trips to the toilet really DID short you on sleep, then hear this: Untreated sleep apnea often causes buildup of urine overnight!

This is because the negative pressure in the thorax, caused by struggling to get air through an obstructed airway, fools cells in the heart into thinking there’s fluid retention.

These cells send a signal to the kidneys to make urine to expel the imagined fluid.

If a family member expresses concern over your excessive napping, listen to that person patiently and do not blow them off.

Keep quiet as they voice their worry, especially if they toss in some information about obstructive sleep apnea.

Your next step is to discuss this with your physician.

Dr. Rifkin is board certified in both neurology and sleep medicine. He also treats insomnia, RLS and narcolepsy. 
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  
Top image: Shutterstock/Annnna_11