We know that babies and small children need daytime naps, but you may not be aware of the benefits of daytime napping for adults. Survey results indicate that 36% to 80% of adults surveyed worldwide indicated napping a least weekly (Dinges, 1989). An American study undertaken in 2008 indicated that 46% of participants napped approximately twice per month.
People have daytime naps for many reasons. Sometimes it’s due to sleep deprivation; this means that an individual is not getting adequate sleep at night and as such is struggling to get through the day without additional sleep. Alternatively, others nap purely for pleasure or lifestyle. In many parts of Europe daytime sleeping is part of the culture. This is due to the middle of the day being very hot and as a result they sleep through the hottest part of the day and work later into the evening.
In China workers often put their heads on their desks for an hour after lunch, it is considered a constitutional right. In Italy the daytime nap is called a riposo and in Spain it’s called a siesta. In Japanese culture they call their nap inemuri, they sleep on a park bench or on a train, this is believed to indicate that they are tired from working hard but still want to be involved in their current situation.
How Much Should I Nap:
The appropriate amount of time for napping changes depending on your age, lifestyle and whether you are a regular napper. There are four stages of sleep. In the first stage we are in a twilight zone, rested but not fully asleep. In the second stage we are no longer aware of our surroundings, and our heart rate is steady. In the third and fourth stage we drift into a deep sleep and approximately ninety minutes after falling asleep we begin the rapid eye movement phase. In the third and fourth phase our heart rate reduces, and muscle relax.
With an understanding of the distinct phases of sleep we know that the difference between a good or bad nap depends of which phase you awake in. If you wake from a nap in stage one or two, you’ll awake rested and revitalized. If you awake in stage three or four you may experience a disruption in your circadian rhythms, this internal clock lets your body know what time of the day it is. By confusing this internal clock you can experience symptoms that are very similar to jetlag. However, if you can sleep a full 90 minutes, your body is able to go through a full sleep cycle once and the body is able to wake without grogginess. Ideally, naps without experiencing grogginess are either 20 minutes or 90 minutes. The research shows that short term memory, procedural memory, task focus, and alertness improve significantly while stress hormones decrease after a nap.
The long and the short of this discussion is, if you have the capacity to put your head down for a quick nap on your lunch break, do so! You could try putting the seat back in your car down with the A/C on and set a timer. Drift off for a well-deserved nap.