Nip lethargy in bud with nap

Broome Advertiser - - Lifestyle - Ni­cole Lo­vato Ni­cole Lo­vato is a post­doc­toral re­search fel­low at the Ade­laide In­sti­tute for Sleep Health, Flin­ders Uni­ver­sity. This edited ar­ti­cle first ap­peared in The Con­ver­sa­tion.

You may be fa­mil­iar with that feel­ing of over­whelm­ing sleepi­ness dur­ing the mid-af­ter­noon.

It’s com­mon, oc­curs whether you’ve eaten lunch or not, and is caused by a nat­u­ral dip in alert­ness from about 1-3pm.

So, if you find your­self fight­ing off sleep in the mid­dle of the day and you’re some­where where you can have a nap, then do it. It’s good for you.

Tak­ing the time for a brief nap will re­lieve the sleepi­ness al­most im­me­di­ately and im­prove alert­ness for sev­eral hours af­ter wak­ing. And there are many other ben­e­fits too.

The perks of nap­ping

Naps are not only ben­e­fi­cial be­cause they make us feel less sleepy and more alert, but be­cause they im­prove our cog­ni­tive func­tion­ing, re­ac­tion times, short-term mem­ory and even our mood.

Our re­search (not yet pub­lished) has found those who reg­u­larly nap re­port feel­ing more alert af­ter a brief nap in the af­ter­noon when com­pared with those who only nap oc­ca­sion­ally.

An­other re­search group found mo­tor learn­ing, which is where brain path­ways change in re­sponse to learn­ing a new skill, was sig­nif­i­cantly greater af­ter a brief af­ter­noon nap for reg­u­lar nap­pers when com­pared to non-nap­pers.

In fact, the over­all ben­e­fits of naps are sim­i­lar to those ex­pe­ri­enced af­ter con­sum­ing caf­feine (or other stim­u­lant med­i­ca­tions), but with­out the side ef­fects of caf­feine de­pen­dence and pos­si­bly dis­rupted sleep at night.

How long should a nap be?

The amount of time you spend nap­ping de­pends on the time you have avail­able.

Gen­er­ally speak­ing, the longer a nap is, the longer you will feel re­ju­ve­nated af­ter wak­ing.

Long naps of one to two hours dur­ing the af­ter­noon will mean you are less sleepy (and re­quire less sleep) that night. This could mean it will take longer than usual to fall asleep.

If you are plan­ning to stay up later than usual, or if tak­ing a lit­tle longer to fall asleep at bed­time is not both­er­some, time your nap for about 1.5 hours.

This is the length of a nor­mal sleep cy­cle. You will ex­pe­ri­ence deep sleep for about an hour or so fol­lowed by light sleep for the last half an hour.

Wak­ing up dur­ing light sleep will leave you feel­ing re­freshed and alert. How­ever, wak­ing dur­ing deep sleep will not.

If you sleep too long and miss the light sleep at the end of a nap, chances are you will wake up feel­ing slug­gish and drowsy. If you do feel drowsy af­ter a nap, this feel­ing is tem­po­rary.

Try a ‘power’ nap

Brief naps of 10-15 min­utes can sig­nif­i­cantly im­prove alert­ness, cog­ni­tive per­for­mance and mood. The ben­e­fits typ­i­cally last for a few hours.

Power naps are great be­cause you won’t ex­pe­ri­ence any slug­gish or drowsy feel­ings af­ter wak­ing.

This is be­cause you do not en­ter any deep sleep dur­ing this brief time. Re­search sug­gests a brief, early-to-mid-af­ter­noon nap pro­vides the great­est re­ju­ve­na­tion when com­pared to naps at any other time of the day.

Pic­ture: Getty Im­ages

Long naps of one to two hours in the af­ter­noon mean you will be less sleepy that night.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.