Sunday, 26 September 2010

Napping


“No day is so bad it can’t be fixed with a nap.”
~ Carrie P. Snow

This is a quote that begins an article on the benefrits of napping on the Riran Project site.

The article goes on to say that we only need as much sleep as the brain will allow. A power nap of 20 minutes can refresh our brains.

A good night's sleep and a refreshing nap can give you many benefits:

  1. Less stress and added relaxation, including decreased stress hormone levels.
  2. Increased alertness and productivity. A 20-minute nap in the afternoon will "do more for your stamina than sleeping another 20 minutes in the morning."
  3. Improved memory and learning. "It looks like napping may protect brain circuits from overuse until those neurons can consolidate what’s been learned about a procedure."
  4. Good for the heart. "may reduce the risk of death from heart disease, particularly in young healthy men, say researchers. It is known that countries where siestas are common tend to have lower levels of heart disease."
  5. Increased cognitive functioning."In a recent study, researchers at NASA showed that a 30-minute power nap increased cognitive faculties by approximately 40 percent!"
  6. Get motivated to exercise."You’re guaranteed to run longer, faster, more efficiently and mindfully when your body has it’s required amount of zzzz’s."
  7. Boost your creativity. "People tend to be more imaginative after a good night’s sleep. Other experts agree that taking a nap or stepping away from a problem or project refreshes the mind and could lead to better ideas later."
  8. Make up for midnight tossing and turning. "Some of the most recent research suggests that a bad night’s sleep can stress the body as well as the mind."  
  9. Protect yourself from sleepiness. "Naps are clearly useful for some people, including shift workers, students, and anyone doing long-haul work, such as pilots on transcontinental runs."
  10. Better health. "Napping in general benefits heart functioning, hormonal maintenance, and cell repair."
Getting the perfect nap

•The first consideration is psychological: Recognize that you’re not being lazy; napping will make you more productive and more alert after you wake up.
•Try to nap in the morning or just after lunch; human circadian rhythms make late afternoons a more likely time to fall into deep (slow-wave) sleep, which will leave you groggy.
•Avoid consuming large quantities of caffeine as well as foods that are heavy in fat and sugar, which meddle with a person’s ability to fall asleep.
•Instead, in the hour or two before your nap time, eat foods high in calcium and protein, which promote sleep.
•Find a clean, quiet place where passersby and phones won’t disturb you.
•Try to darken your nap zone, or wear an eyeshade. Darkness stimulates melatonin, the sleep- inducing hormone.
•Remember that body temperature drops when you fall asleep. Raise the room temperature or use a blanket.
•Once you are relaxed and in position to fall asleep, set your alarm for the desired duration (see below).
How long is a good nap?

THE NANO-NAP: 10 to 20 seconds. Sleep studies haven’t yet concluded whether there are benefits to these brief intervals, like when you nod off on someone’s shoulder on the train.
THE MICRO-NAP: two to five minutes. Shown to be surprisingly effective at shedding sleepiness.

THE MINI-NAP: five to 20 minutes. Increases alertness, stamina, motor learning, and motor performance.

THE ORIGINAL POWER NAP: 20 minutes. Includes the benefits of the micro and the mini, but additionally improves muscle memory and clears the brain of useless built-up information, which helps with long-term memory (remembering facts, events, and names).

THE LAZY MAN’S NAP: 50 to 90 minutes. Includes slow-wave plus REM sleep; good for improving perceptual processing; also when the system is flooded with human growth hormone, great for repairing bones and muscles.
I had a nap this afternoon. It was wonderful.

Read the whole article on the Ririan Project site, here.

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