It's okay to nap during the day - Choose a gentle wake up - a Chime Zen Alarm Clock
Have you ever felt an overpowering urge to find privacy and a bed for a midday “quickie?” Don’t feel guilty about that. It’s just your body telling you what it needs — sleep!
It’s unfortunate that most daily schedules can’t accommodate that need. Quickie naps are good for you. During the nap period of seeming inactivity, you do not simply “turn off;” complex reparative processes occur in your body. While the exact physiologic mechanisms responsible for the benefits of napping are not yet well understood, its positive outcomes have been confirmed in studies: they include improvements in mood, alertness, memory, performance and decision-making ability.
Let’s start with the best time for a nap: afternoon. An afternoon nap does not disrupt normal circadian (meaning: about a day) rhythms, whereas a morning or evening nap can — making it harder for you to return to your usual sleep routine that night. Your body probably already tells you this: circadian changes in your hormones and temperature are likely to make afternoon a naturally sleepy time for you. These cyclical patterns help explain why simply tacking more minutes or hours of sleep onto your nocturnal sleep time won’t necessarily prevent afternoon sleepiness. No matter how much you sleep at night, the afternoon urge will probably hit you.
How long should you nap? About 20 minutes. Anything much longer can backfire. You know that prolonged groggy feeling you sometimes feel after a nap? It’s called sleep inertia; you may have experienced it if you napped too long. Sleep inertia can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 4 hours to wear off. During this period, studies have shown impairments in mood, alertness, memory, performance and decision-making abilities. The likelihood of developing sleep inertia depends on several factors, one of which is the sleep stage from which you awaken. In a June, 2006 study in Sleep (the peer-reviewed publication of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies), investigators demonstrated the positive cognitive effects following 10- and 20-minute naps, but also the negative effects of sleep inertia following a 30-minute nap. The 30-minute timing coincides with the normal onset of deep sleep (also called slow-wave sleep). Limiting your nap time will help prevent entry into deep-sleep stages — avoiding sleep inertia while minimizing disruptions to your normal nocturnal sleep.
Choose the most natural wake up -- a gentle Zen Alarm Clock with Soothing Chimes
Keep in mind quickie-napping can’t compensate for significant sleep debt. While the increasing demands of our lifestyles may not reflect it, a wealth of research has verified that most adults require an average of 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Be mindful of persistent sleepiness throughout the day, despite adequate nocturnal sleep: it may be a symptom of a sleep disorder (such as narcolepsy, periodic limb movements, or obstructive sleep apnea) or an underlying medical problem (such as thyroid disease, serious infection or illness, anxiety or depression). Always listen to your body and speak with your doctor about your concerns.
And … try to sneak in a midday nap. But, remember, keep it quick!
Dr. Nayer Khazeni specializes in internal medicine and pulmonary/critical care, teaches, and conducts research at Stanford University Medical Center.
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adapted from sfgate.com by Nayer Khazeni, M.D.
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