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By: Lauren McRae
Lack of sleep can leave you feeling groggy and foggy all day, impairing your ability to focus on work and even retain information. That’s not all; lack of sleep also decreases libido, ages skin and can inhibit your ability to lose weight.
Chronic sleep deprivation—regularly forgoing the recommended 7 to 8 hours or due to other sleep disorders—can have serious consequences on your health, including increased risk for heart disease, heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and depression. In other words, maintaining good sleep habits is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. And, unfortunately, most of us aren't doing that.
If done correctly, there is great power in a well-timed nap. While you should not rely on naps to repair the damage done by inadequate sleep or chronic sleep deprivation, naps can recharge your energy levels and improve your mood. The key is to time them just right. Short naps are preferable. Longer naps may be taken on occasion to make up for an occasional lapse in sleep schedule.
Thomas Freedom, MD, Neurologist and Program Director of Sleep Medicine at NorthShore, breaks down nap time to help you achieve maximum benefits from a little daytime shuteye:
10 to 20 minutes. Often called the “power nap,” this short rest period is a great way to recharge your personal energy battery, boosting alertness and increasing your midday focus. Keep your power naps to 10 to 20 minutes because you’ll stay in lighter stages of non-rapid eye movement (NREM), which means you won’t wake up feeling groggy and can get right back to work feeling refreshed. Also, try to take the nap early in the afternoon.
30 minutes or more. Word of warning: Naps longer than 20 minutes could leave you with sleep inertia, or grogginess that can last up to 30 minutes after waking. If you need to be back on your feet right away, keep your nap to less than 20 minutes. Otherwise, after the fog wears off, you’ll enjoy the same restorative benefits of the power nap.
60 minutes. If you find yourself forgetting information halfway through your day, 60 minutes of shuteye might be able to help. A nap between 30 and 60 minutes will get you to slow-wave sleep, which can help improve your decision-making skills and recollection of information. You’ll need to give yourself a little recovery time after an hour nap, as the effects of sleep inertia could be more pronounced. There is a possibility that a nap of this length could also disrupt your sleep at night.
90 minutes. A 90-minute nap gives you a full sleep cycle—from the lighter stages of sleep all the way to REM (rapid eye movement). A nap of 60 to 90 minutes can improve decision-making skills and even enhance creativity. At this length, make sure to nap with care. You don’t want to disrupt your regular sleep schedule or keep yourself up at night by napping too long during the day. Sleep inertia may also be more of an issue.
Do you take day-time naps to boost your energy levels?