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Why Do Naps Make Me Feel Sick?

A Sleep Doctor Explains Why You Might Feel Groggy or Sick After Taking a Nap

Naps are glorious. Lying down in the middle of the day can help you feel refreshed and ready to tackle your afternoon. But if you ever wake up feeling more exhausted — or even sick to your stomach — you may need to reevaluate your sleep habits.

Most commonly, the fatigue stems from sleeping too long. "This can occur when the person naps long enough to get into deep sleep, what we call stage N3 sleep," Benjamin Nager, MD, a neurologist at Northwestern Medicine Huntley Hospital, told POPSUGAR. "If you wake from a nap and were in stage N3 when you awaken, then you are likely to experience 'sleep inertia,' or a feeling of being half asleep after waking."

To prevent yourself from feeling tired, try setting an alarm to wake up earlier. "Power napping or napping for no more than 15 minutes prevents a person from getting into the deep stages of sleep that leave you feeling as though you are still half asleep after the nap," Dr. Nager said. Some people may be able to sleep for 20 to 30 minutes — or perhaps even a little longer — without feeling groggy, so you might try changing it up if 15 minutes isn't quite enough.

It's important to remember that naps shouldn't be a replacement for the restful, deep sleep you would ideally get at night. "If you find that you need to nap frequently, then it is likely that you are not getting enough sleep, or the sleep quality you are getting is poor," Dr. Nager said. "For most people, seven to nine hours of sleep with only one to three brief awakenings or less per night in a quiet, comfortable environment is usually adequate. If you are getting this much sleep and you still require naps, then you should talk to your doctor."

Why Do I Feel Sick After Taking a Nap?

If you wake up feeling a bit nauseous, it's likely a result of your diet. "Eating prior to sleep, especially fatty foods, alcohol, or other stomach-irritating foods, can cause gastroesophageal reflux," Dr. Nager explained. In other words, lying down for a nap after eating a hefty lunch or having a midday cocktail could allow acid to rise up from your stomach, making you feel sick.

"If you are having nausea after napping, I would suggest altering your diet first, eating healthfully and avoiding excessively fatty foods and spicy foods," he said. "If taking an antacid helps, then it is likely due to GERD, gastritis, or an ulcer."

If your diet seems unlikely to be the culprit, you may also be experiencing a migraine. "Migraine can be accompanied by nausea, and nausea from migraine can occur prior to the headache and, in some cases, be the only feature of migraine," Dr. Nager said. Try taking a pain reliever with a big glass of water, as dehydration often triggers headaches.

Image Source: Getty / Flashpop
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