Need a nap? Then take one!
Seriously, naps are good things. We simply don’t sleep well or enough in our current society. While most of us need somewhere between 7-8 hours of sleep there are the rare ones among us who are capable of doing quite well on 5 or so. As well the opposite, there are some who need as much as 10 hours to get the sleep they need. These are the few however…well, once you get out of the teen years. Teens on average need a little more than an adult; around 9 hours to be civil. Either way, it turns out, the majority of us are sporting a sleep deficit that might rival the national debt.
Pay attention here…this lack of rest has much more of an effect on you, your life and your plans then you probably realize.
Check these facts out.
A sleep deprived person has been compared to someone who has had a bit too much to drink. Think about all we put into making sure we don’t ..or our friends don’t drive or make important decisions while under the influence. And yet…
What are some of the known issues?
- memory difficulty
- impaired judgments
- slower responses both physically and mentally
- less accurate responses
- aches and pains
- symptoms similar to ADHD
- increased perception of pain and stressors
- cravings for sugary foods or quick energy which can equate to a poor diet
Longer term effects can be:
- weight gain
- immune system impairment
- increased risk of heart disease
- increased risk of disease in general
- slows or suppressed growth
- slows healing process
Suddenly it’s easy to see why sleep is pretty freaking important beyond not nodding off during an important meeting. Your mindset cannot work for you if you are struggling to stay awake and not rip someones head off for breaking your shaky concentration right?
A nap won’t fix your poor sleeping habits but it can go a fair distance to making life livable once again. Or at least making it easier for us to live with you.
Would it help if I told you that many of our great leaders have been fans of the nap? Names such as Eleanor Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy or Albert Einstein ring a bell? How about Leonardo Di Vinci?
Rumour has it that Winston Churchill first coined the term “power nap”. Margaret Thatcher is said to have insisted her staff not bother her between certain hours so that she too could have a sleep in the afternoon.
Researchers at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania have found that dropping off for 45 minutes to an hour helps to lower your blood pressure after a stressful event.
Sleep has also been found to be linked to regulating certain hormones including possibly ones related to our appetite and feelings of hunger or fullness.
In fact, have you ever experienced a sleepless night followed by a day when no matter what you ate you never felt full or satisfied? If so, then you have experienced the workings of the hormones leptin and ghrelin. So, to put it simply when we don’t sleep we often eat way more than we really need to because our hormones are out of whack. Add in our desire for stimulants (coffee, energy drinks) we aren’t making good, healthy choices for our body.
The best option of course is to work on improving our sleep habits and to actually get enough sleep. That just isn’t always possible; of this I am keenly aware.
So do naps help with our sleep debt?
The answer is yes according to Gregory Belenky, MD, Research Professor and Director of the Sleep and Performance Research Center at Washington State University. He recommends naps as a way to make up for lost sleep. He says, “The beauty of naps is that they add to total recuperative sleep time,” adding that “A large number of the world’s people divide their sleep into two blocks (with the afternoon sleep called a siesta in Spanish-speaking countries). It is even possible that divided sleep is more recuperative than sleep taken in a single block.”
Our biological clock actually has two normal dips in alertness during the 24 hour period. Researchers peg them at about 2 am and 2 pm. At these times it is more of a battle to be alert; and even tougher for those who are sleep deprived. Studies show that a 10-20 min rest can help people cope if they are feeling drowsy.
While getting enough proper sleep at night is ideal; it’s good to know that Mom had it right all along. Powering down and having a nap can do amazing things for you when you are fatigued and drowsy during the day. You can’t move forward in your personal growth if you can’t think straight! Get some sleep!