All in Fa­vor of Nap­time …

Don’t feel guilty, it’s good for you

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In China, work­ers are al­lowed to put their heads down on their desks for a good hour-long nap. In Spain, the siesta is a mid­day break that can last up to two hours and in­cludes nap­time. In Italy, ri­poso is the time of day dur­ing which busi­nesses shut down so work­ers can en­joy a long lunch and a nap, an in­ter­lude that may last sev­eral hours in the af­ter­noon. In the United States, on the other hand, we don’t see a lot of time set aside for nap­ping. The prac­tice of tak­ing a lit­tle snooze in the af­ter­noon gets a bad rap here in the U.S. Those who nap are of­ten thought of as lazy, un­mo­ti­vated or un­en­er­getic—un­less you’re under five or over 65, that is. Stud­ies have proven that those la­bels are wrong. In fact, the op­po­site is true. Naps can be ben­e­fi­cial in many ways, in­clud­ing help­ing to re­store alert­ness, en­hance per­for­mance, and pro­vide rest and re­ju­ve­na­tion. “Naps can help im­prove at­ten­tion and cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties,” says Dr. Jose Colon, a sleep medicine spe­cial­ist with Lee Physi­cian Group. “Naps can also im­prove moods, lower stress and en­er­gize one’s mind,” adds Stacey C. Brown, M.A., LMHC, a Fort My­ers­based men­tal health coun­selor. In fact, a nap study con­ducted by NASA found that work­ing mem­ory per­for­mance also ben­e­fits from naps. Fur­ther­more, a study con­ducted by Univer­sity of Michi­gan doc­toral stu­dent Jennifer Gold­schmied found that peo­ple were less im­pul­sive and had greater tol­er­ance for frus­tra­tion af­ter wak­ing from a 60-minute mid­day nap. While many don’t have a whole hour to take off for a nap, even 20 to 40 min­utes of rest can help in­vig­o­rate and im­prove pro­duc­tiv­ity. “I pre­scribe nap­ping for a mul­ti­tude of rea­sons,” says Colon. Not ev­ery­one is a nap­per, but still, even tak­ing a rest pro­vides many of the same ben­e­fits. “The yoga com­mu­nity ad­vo­cates for tak­ing a ‘yoga nidra,’ which is a deeply re­laxed state of be­ing while re­clin­ing for 20 min­utes,” says Brown. Al­though it’s not

If we do not take time and value our need for rest, we will pay for it later with grouch­i­ness, an in­abil­ity to con­cen­trate, poor stress man­age­ment, sus­cep­ti­bil­ity to ill­ness and dis­ease, and cog­ni­tive de­cline. We need rest." —Stacey C. Brown, M.A., LMHC, a Fort My­ers-based men­tal health coun­selor

a nap, it is a deep, rest­ful state. “Al­most ev­ery cul­ture has some­thing that is em­bed­ded that en­cour­ages rest, restora­tion, nur­tur­ing and re­lax­ing. We tend to for­get that, and there is a cost,” ex­plains Brown, who spe­cial­izes in anx­i­ety, de­pres­sion and stress man­age­ment. She also of­fers train­ing in re­lax­ation, med­i­ta­tion and yoga. While all adults—and chil­dren—can ben­e­fit from naps, some peo­ple have sleep prob­lems such as hor­monal changes, sleep ap­nea, vi­ta­min de­fi­cien­cies, de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety, which can im­pede healthy sleep pat­terns. “Th­ese med­i­cal con­di­tions need to be re­solved in or­der to have bet­ter over­all health and sleep,” ex­plains Brown. Those who work grave­yard shifts, such as health care providers, po­lice of­fi­cers and even re­tail em­ploy­ees, must sleep dur­ing the day, which can be a chal­lenge to get ad­e­quate rest, con­sid­er­ing that it’s gen­er­ally lighter and less quiet in the day.

Stacey C. Brown, M.A., LMHC

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