Nap Your Way Optimal Health
I remember being told back when I was a wee toddler that I had to, I must… take a nap. The very word ‘nap’ did not sit well with me at all..in fact, I hated napping as a child! My mother and grandmother both said they would put me down for a nap and when they would check in on me, I was always either standing up in my crib with a big smile on my face or playing with my toys just waiting to be rescued from the horror of napping .
So what’s so great about napping? Almost half of all Americans 13-64 are not getting a good night’s sleep and this affects every area of your life – including your weight. Napping can help us catch up on our sleep along with preventing and reversing the physical, mental and emotional effects of a lack of sleep.
I’m sure most of you can relate to that feeling of having low energy levels, you felt lethargic and were dragging your feet. To make matters worse, many people opt for that immediate burst of energy from sugar snacks, caffeine or junk food and this only creates unstable blood sugar (and inflammation) that lands you right back at the fridge. Not a great scenario if you are trying to lose weight.
Interesting to note, we humans are considered unique in our sleeping habits. We are typically considered ‘monophasic’ sleepers and one of the very few animals that actually sleep once and are then finished, where most other animals are considered ‘polyphasic’ sleepers – think of a cat or dog that sleeps off and on all day. Polyphasic sleepers sleep multiple times during a 24 hour period – one well-known human polyphasic sleeper was Benjamin Franklin..he slept multiple times a day. However, since the advent of electricity with Thomas Edison’s light bulb..this changed everything related to our sleeping patterns. Also, The sleepiness that occurs between the hours of 1 and 3 have given scientists strong anecdotal evidence that we really are not monophasic sleepers at all. In fact, they believe we need more than just once every 24 hours.
“The advent of electricity along with Thomas Edison’s light bulb, has changed everything”
Apparently there are a few people out there (like me) who don’t like naps and it may be because we are not doing it right. There is a thing called ‘The Art of the Nap’ The ideal power nap is between 10-20 minutes – any longer and you have sleep inertia such as grogginess that lingers. It has been shown that even a 10 second nap works wonders. Try not to nap after 4 pm as this will interfere with your night time sleeping.
The benefits of napping are:
Increased alertness. Alertness is a byproduct of napping. If you take a nap in the early afternoon, you will be as alert as you were in the morning hours.
More creativity. The mental spark of creativity is heightened with a Power Nap. The right brain where creativity is associated with such as big picture thinking and visualization are actively undergoing a ‘housecleaning.’ Refreshing the body and brain is one result of napping.
A healthier heart. Napping can cut your risk of a fatal heart attack by more than one-third and thus a longer life. Napping reduces stress and the associated inflammatory hormones further promoting beneficial heart health in many areas.
A better working memory. Those who nap retain and retreive information much easier than those who are sleep deprived.
An improved mood. When we lack sleep, the ‘Happy Hormone’ Serotonin is reduced contributing to poor mood, poor sleep and increased hunger and cravings for sugar and other junk foods. Napping permeates our brain in serotonin helping to prevent irritability, anxiousness and depression.
An overall healthier you. Napping helps boost the immune system, reduces the stress hormone cortisol (that, if chronically triggered can result in weight gain), improve brain health, vitality, energy and mental health.
For overall optimal health, you may want to give yourself the gift of not just a physical break..but a mental break as well and that break is napping. So go ahead and nap…and I just may join you. Sweet dreams. . .
To Your Good Health,
© 2014 DLS HealthWorks, LLC.
Lori Shemek, PhD, CNC, health and weight loss expert is the best-selling author of ‘Fire-Up Your Fat Burn!