Tips by Dr. Marcus for a peaceful sleep
Its okay to take a nap after lunch?
I woke tired. Can a particular beverage _ food help me?
I love midnight snacks.What can I have that won't affect my sleep ?
How long before going to bed should I have my last meal ?
How long after waking up should I wait to eat something ?
Does heavy food at night affect the sleep cycle?
Does having coffee affect my sleep?
Does going to bed hungry affect your sleep cycle?
Have you ever had trouble sleeping after a heavy dinner?
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You don't lose when you snooze: benefits of taking a nap
When it comes to naps many people have their own theories regarding its benefits. Some may say that it is a quick way for them to get rid of sluggishness. Some may say it helps in improving cognitive function. Others may say it’s a trap to lure you to bed where 30 minutes becomes two hours. We have all faced days where even if we had proper sleep at night we feel a little tired and sleepy during the day. It could be because we had a heavy lunch which makes us want to curl up in bed or the work we are doing is uninteresting and taking a nap sounds like a good escape. Whatever may be your reason to get some snooze time during the day, there can be benefits to it… if used properly.
Types of Naps
A nap can be as short as 15 minutes and as long as 90 minutes. A 15-20 minute nap is called a power nap and is used to recharge the brain and help one feel alert and active. A power nap can improve short term and long term memory as well as increase the efficiency of multitasking. A half an hour nap (20-30 minutes) and 90 minute nap should be used when we are trying to make up for inadequate sleep the previous night. Why 90 minutes? The reason behind this is a full sleep cycle takes about 90 minutes. After about 30 minutes of sleep we enter the deep sleep stage which is difficult to awaken from and can lead to feeling drowsy, sluggish and irritable. This defeats the purpose of taking a nap.
Naps can also be categorized according to the need
1. Recovery nap – used when we experience lack of sleep. It lasts almost 30 minutes.
2. Prophylactic nap – used when we need to remain awake for prolonged periods of time or by people who need to remain awake at odd hours. This nap is usually long - about two to three hours (multiple REM cycles).
3. Appetitive nap – used when we want to take naps for better mood or relaxation purposes. It can also be used to increase productivity, creativity and motivation. It lasts for about one to three hours.
4. Fulfillment nap – taken by children and toddlers as they have greater need for sleep. It also aids in their physical and mental development. It can last from 10 minutes to one hour.
5. Essential nap – taken when we are sick to help the body recover. This doesn't have a time limit but should be taken multiple times during the day.
Benefits of taking a nap
Aside from making us feel energetic napping has many other benefits such as:
1. Improved memory and learning
2. Improved critical thinking and creativity
3. Better mood
4. Increased alertness
5. Stress relief
6. Improved immune functioning
7. Lower blood pressure and improved heart health
8. Improved quality of sleep at night
Studies show that napping occasionally (once or twice a week) or when required (to recover from inadequate sleep) for a short duration (30-45 mins) can be beneficial to health. Studies have also shown napping can boost cognitive function especially in the elderly and almost half the risk of heart attack/stroke/heart failure.
Napping too frequently?
Though taking naps has many health benefits, increasing the duration of naps or the times you nap in a week can be due to underlying health problems. An adult requiring more than 9 hours of sleep a day is considered to be unhealthy.
It is advised to find out what makes you require frequent naps during the week as it can be linked to sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, insomnia or hypersomnia which can cause metabolic dysfunction, cardiovascular diseases and reduced immune response. Other factors that lead to irregular sleep patterns include consumption of drugs and alcohol, changes in sleep pattern/time zones, physical injuries and so on.