National Napping Day - Should you join??

Following my post on sleep, I had quite a few people reach out to me regarding napping, and does that count towards their sleep hours.  The good news is, it can!  But there's a catch, only if you obtain an entire sleep cycle.  What is that you ask......read on:

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Naps have been shown to improve energy, productivity, cognitive functioning and even health.  Many famous figures from Leonardo Da Vinci to Albert Einstein reportedly napped throughout the day to help them think more clearly and be more creative.  Before we all head to our beds in the middle of the day, you have to consider sleep cycles in order to nap smart!

The majority of our sleep occurs in NREM stages (non-rapid eye movement), where our muscles and body are relaxed, temperature and blood pressure drops, heart rate and breath rate decreases and our cells and tissues have time to grow and repair.  Here is when our energy levels and nervous system recover.  During NREM sleep, anabolic hormones (growth hormone) is released to repair tissues and stabilize our energy levels.  The other 25% of our sleep is REM (rapid eye movement).  In this stage, our brain is active, energy is supplied to the brain and the rest of the body and our eyes move back and forth.  This is often the time that we dream and our brain can establish new connections between neutrons (individual cells in our brain).

At what point does each stage of sleep happen?

When we sleep, we move through 5 stages:

REM, where we dream, down through stages 1-4 where deep sleep occurs (NREM).  Throughout the night we move from REM to stage 1, stage 2, stage 3, stage 4; then back through stage 3, stage 2, stage 1 and finally, REM.  This whole cycle stages 90 minutes.  When you nap, you want to think about the stages of sleep to make sure you do not wake up feeling more tired then before you went to sleep.  If we wake up while we are in stages 2-4 we can feel extremely groggy because we were entering a deep sleep, where our brain is focusing on recovering and regenerating and not focusing on functioning in a waking state.

Therefore, if you want to have a refreshing nap to recharge the batteries, think about 10-20 minutes of sleep.  If you have more time on your hands, aim for the full cycle of sleep and therefore try to sleep for 90 minutes.  Anything in between might leave you feeling more tired then before

Happy National Nap Day!

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Dianna MouldenComment