It’s the start of the work week for most, and I’m sure we can agree that all of us would prefer to roll over, pull our blankets in closer and just keep sleeping until Monday goes away. Much like Garfield, most people aren’t fans of Mondays. ever wonder why Garfield hates Mondays so much? It’s not like he has a job to go to or any responsibilities. But I digress…
The topic of today’s post is about naps. I love naps. I often think back to my youth, when I would have had much more free time to grab a nap here and there but neglected to do so. It reminds me of my son, who outright refuses to nap and I keep telling him he’ll regret that choice when he gets older and no longer has the option. Our two-year old still gets put down for a nap and even when he fights it, ends up getting some sleep. Ah, the innocence!
I’ve written about naps in several previous posts and the reality is that naps are actually beneficial, as long as you don’t overdo them. Like everything else in life, there needs to be a balance. But if you nap in reasonable increments for short periods of time, they’ve been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, improve one’s memory, increase productivity and improve one’s mood. In Japan, nap periods during the workday are encouraged as they’ve already acknowledged that it increases the company’s overall productivity.
I once worked in a call centre (please don’t hold that against me) and they had a break lounge with dim lighting and soft, plush chairs for a staff to use their 15-minute breaks to grab a quick snooze. I was taken aback at the prospect that someone could actually nap for that short a period of time. But once I tried it a few times, I was surprised at how much good it did. Some experts I’ve read about have explained that sleep happens in four stages of a cycle, starting with the “falling asleep” stage, followed by the slowing and relaxing of the body, followed by slipping into deep sleep and finishing off the cycle with rapid-eye movement sleep, or what’s known as REM sleep.
So how long should one nap? This is a deeply debated aspect, since most professionals tend to agree that naps shouldn’t be TOO long or you risk falling into a deep sleep that will negatively affect the remainder of you or day and potentially prevent proper sleep at night. For the most part, I’ve always read that a 15 to 20-minute nap was enough to get you to the relaxing and slowing of the body stage, without allowing you to slip into deep sleep, which can be much more difficult to come out of.
The World Sleep Society claims that naps should be less than 45 minutes. This makes sense, since slipping into “deep sleep” can make waking up difficult and leave you feeling groggy and make it harder to push through the rest of your day. There’s nothing worse than feeling as though your nap made things worse or made you more tired. The whole point is to gain a bit of rejuvenation, right?
I read an article where Dr. Sara Mednick, a cognitive neuroscientist with the University of California, explained how taking an hour-long nap can be ideal since you start to slip into REM sleep. This is where all the beneficial aspects of sleep start to kick in; body regeneration, immune system repair and improved cognitive function. And coming out of REM sleep is actually way easier than coming out of a deep sleep. Apparently. I hate waking up in general. I’d live in the matrix, if it meant I could stay asleep. But once again I digress…
Napping through all four stages of a sleep cycle can do wonders and if t you have the time for it in your day, can increase your productivity and mood significantly. But even if you have time, anything more than an hour, hour and a half and you’re looking at possibly interfering with the sleep you try to get at night. So it’s important to find some balance. If you grab yourself a nap and still feel tired and/or exhausted, it could be a sign of something else so you shouldn’t be afraid to discuss it with your doctor or medical practitioner.
Now if you’ll excuse me, as much as I’d love to keep napping I have to get on with my Monday. perhaps the day will bring an opportunity for a snooze. We’ll see… ☯️