The Ins and Outs of Napping
Sleep is crucial to your overall mental wellbeing. As I’ve highlighted in a previous article, many equate success with a lack of sleep. Denying yourself the adequate 7-8 hours of sleep a night can have detrimental effects on your mental health. Recent research suggests that people are compensating for their lack of sleep with naps during the day. In today’s column, I will discuss why we nap, whether it is healthy for you and how to cultivate the perfect nap.
Why do we nap?
Brian Murray, a sleep specialist from Toronto, suggests that people feel the need to nap when they do not get the necessary 7-8 hours of sleep at night. Dr. Judith Davidson, a professor at Queen’s University adds that the common afternoon sleepiness felt by many may result from a natural decline in your body temperature that typically occurs between 1pm-4pm. This subsequently sends a biological signal to your body that it’s time to sleep. This natural decline in body temperature combined with not getting enough quality sleep the night before could definitely catapult you into nap heaven.
Is napping healthy?
Brian Murray recommends aiming to sleep the 7-8 hours at night, as opposed to sleeping less and compensating with naps in the day. He does maintain, however, that a nap here and there is nothing to be concerned about. It’s important to note that if you find yourself napping everyday, it may be necessary to look at your nightly sleep schedule.
How to have the perfect nap.
If you feel so inclined to nap, here are some tips on how to cultivate the perfect nap. According to Dr. Davidson, napping between 1pm-4pm is ideal. Falling asleep before 1pm may trick your body into thinking that you’ve slept in, which may leave your feeling groggy. Napping after 4pm may impact your sleep schedule, making it harder to fall asleep at night.
Dr. Charles Morin, a professor at Laval University, maintains that power naps, where you sleep between 15 and 30 minutes, are ideal. Sleeping for longer than 30 minutes may result in a deeper level of sleep, which can leave you feeling sluggish upon waking up.