Good or Bad? Napping with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

It Could Be Making You Feel Worse

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Do you take a lot of naps because of your chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS)? It stands to reason — you're tired, you take a nap.

However, a study published in January 2015 suggests that an afternoon nap could actually be a bad idea for people with this condition.

Researchers looked at sleep diaries kept by 118 adults meeting the 1994 diagnostic criteria (Fukuda) for ME/CFS. The diaries included participants' assessments of their fatigue, sleepiness, cognitive function and mood.

The researchers classified the participants into groups of mild sleepiness and moderate sleepiness. ("Mild" and "moderate" in this context are relative terms since the participants likely experience more sleepiness than would a healthy person.) When analyzed, the diaries revealed certain trends among the sleepier group:

  • Longer daytime naps,
  • Primarily afternoon napping,
  • Higher levels of anxiety.

Researchers concluded that napping, and especially afternoon napping, was linked to poorer cognitive function and actually being sleepier during the day.

While this is a fairly small study, it could be worth paying attention to how you feel on days that you nap, particularly in the afternoon. If making a schedule adjustment helps you feel and function better, it would certainly be worth it.

It may be worth noting, however, that the participants who were more likely to nap in the afternoon may do so because of overall higher levels of fatigue, anxiety or other factors.

More Resources


Gotts ZM, et al. PLoS One. 2015 Jan 9;10(1):e0117136. The association between daytime napping and cognitive functioning in chronic fatigue syndrome.

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