September 4 2019

Should you be taking naps?

Sufficient sleep is vital for our physical, mental and emotional well being and in an ideal world, we’d all be going to bed several hours before midnight, waking up without alarms, and feeling refreshed and energized.

With the reality of un-natural work schedules, family responsibilities, and yes, just some less-than-great personal habits, many of us are quite sleep deprived. So if you’re NOT waking up bright-eyed in the morning or you’re finding yourself nodding off during the day, is a daytime nap right for you?

Well, it depends.

  1. If you struggle with insomnia— having problems falling asleep or staying asleep, then I usually DON’T recommend daytime naps because studies show that avoiding sleep can actually improve sleep continuity for insomniacs.
  2.  REGULAR daytime naps appear to be superior to inconsistent naps, when it comes to improved motor function after waking up from the nap.
  3. Timing of your nap is important and if you are sleep deprived, studies suggest that likely due to circadian rhythms, having a nap in the early to mid afternoon is more restorative than having a nap later in the day or in the early evening.
  4. How long you take a nap for is also important: 10-30 minutes is ideal with research showing improved cognitive functioning for this nap duration, after waking. Less than the 10 minutes and you don’t feel rested, not having probably gone through Phase 1 of sleep. More than about 30 minutes and you enter deep sleep phases which leaves you feeling groggy if woken up during these phases, with an initial impairment caused from sleep inertia.

 

References:

Milner et al, Journal of Sleep Research May 2009

Milner et al, Biological Psychology Aug 2006

Dhand et al, Curr. Opin. Pulm Med.  Nov 2006

Lovato et al, Prog Brain Res 2010

 

So should YOU be taking naps and are you optimizing the naps you ARE taking? Take the below quiz to find out!

Dance Link

Speaking of rest, this healing dance piece explores the importance of it. It is called Resting Pulses. Please enjoy.

Choreography: Tumi Johnson

Dancer: Tumi Johnson

Music: JS Bach

Poem: “Resting Pulses” by Tumi Johnson

Videography: Zare Manojlovic

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