The benefits of napping (short-sleep) that few people know

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Napping is possibly one of the most controversial topics in the world about sleep. Go online and you’ll find sleep experts, some praising the benefits of napping, and others claiming that napping can ruin nighttime sleep. So, what’s the truth about naps? Are they harmful or beneficial to our sleep pattern? Does it all depend on our individual sleep needs, or are there rules we should follow while napping during the day?

What is a nap?

Napping is a period of time that takes place at a different time than normal sleep. Most people tend to nap during the day, especially in the afternoon during a natural circadian rhythm.

A nap is considered a type of multi-stage sleep, meaning that more than one sleep occurs. Given this broad description, a nap doesn’t necessarily have to be determined by the length or time of the day.

The benefits of napping (short-sleep) that few people know
The benefits of napping (short-sleep) that few people know

Naps have been around cultures for thousands of years. 85% of mammals sleep in two or more stages instead of one. In a large part of recorded history, humans have slept in two phases each of four hours, one that begins just after sunset and the other at night. Sleep maintenance insomnia is a condition in which the sleeper wakes up several times during the night, which may be related to the biological tendency to sleep in phases.

Naps have become popular hundreds of years ago in warm climates like Spain, where “naps” have long become a tradition. The word nap comes from the Latin term sexta hora, meaning the sixth hour. The sixth hour refers to the period of about six hours after dawn, when the temperature is hottest and the outdoor work is the hardest.

While napping has never been a cultural tradition in the United States, napping has become increasingly popular as Americans learn more about the importance of sleep.

How long should a nap last?

A nap can last almost any amount of time, from a few minutes to a few hours. Depending on the duration, naps have different effects on the body and brain.

Regular short sleep
A nap is typically defined as a short period of rest with the goal of improving alertness or physical endurance. These types of naps usually last between ten and thirty minutes.

Also known as Stage 2 naps, naps are usually long enough to go through the first stages of sleep, known as N1 and N2. N1 and N2 are considered light sleep phases and take about twenty minutes to complete.

Due to the short duration of naps, naps that fail to reach the deep, slow-wave stage of sleep, are known as N3. Waking up from naps is usually quick, causing little disorientation or drowsiness.

What is the difference between N1 and N2 sleep? N1 is the transition phase between awake and sleep. N2 is deeper, harder to wake up and is characterized by unique brain waves called sleep flow and K complex.

The benefits of napping (short-sleep) that few people know
The benefits of napping (short-sleep) that few people know

Short-wave sleep is slow
Naps longer than twenty to thirty minutes allow the body to fall into slow wave sleep, or N3. N3 is the deepest and most restorative stage of sleep, and is characterized by the following changes to the body and brain:

Enhances immune activity
Heals tissues and wounds
Clean up harmful proteins from the brain
Handling procedural and emotional memories
Slow-wave sleep dominates the early night sleep cycle, while REM sleep becomes more dominant in the morning. When sleep is long enough to go through the first two stages of sleep to N3 sleep, it becomes more difficult for the sleeper to wake up.

Because muscles need blood for healing and other immune activity during N3 sleep, less blood goes to the brain. If waking occurs during N3 sleep, anemia to the brain can lead to sleep inertia. Sleep inertia is characterized by difficulty waking up, impaired cognitive and physical dexterity, and persistent lethargy.

Although sleep inertia usually dissipates rapidly after waking up in the morning, it can persist for thirty minutes or even longer after waking up from the N3 sleep phase. Naps that allow the body to cycle through all four sleep phases, including the REM, usually do not induce the same sleep inertia as naps that end during the N3 sleep phase.

The benefits of short sleep

Recent research into the physical and cognitive effects of naps has shown significant benefits for people with daytime sleep. Napping increases alertness significantly reduces daytime sleepiness, boosts energy and mood, and improves cognitive function.

One study found that a nap that included all four stages of sleep, including REM, had the same benefits for some types of learning as full sleep. Logical reasoning is also improved by longer naps, as well as improved problem-solving skills. Naps, including REM sleep, are typically around ninety minutes long.

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The benefits of napping (short-sleep) that few people know

In short, although a twenty to thirty minute nap may be enough to restore cognitive function and dispel drowsiness, the desire to sleep is established gradually throughout the day. Drowsiness usually peaks in the early to mid afternoon and at night. Because memory consolidation begins during N2 sleep, a regular nap can also enhance memory and help facilitate learning. (9) Just twenty minutes of nap can reverse the positive effects on metabolism and hormonal function, allowing for healthy fat storage and other essential processes strong.

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