September 1, 2014

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On the Other Hand — A long winter's nap PDF Print
Saturday, March 01, 2014 9:00 PM

This column is on a topic near and dear to my heart — naps. I love naps. Not just any ol’ nap. A good nap.

Nothing ruins a nap quite like waking up and feeling more tired than when you laid down. Ugh! What a huge waste of time.

When I saw the article “How long to nap for the biggest brain benefits” I had to learn more. Research must be done. I had to read and unravel the mystery of the nap.

The Wall Street journal article offered recommendations for planning the perfect nap, including how long to nap and when. Sign me up.

To boost alertness, a 10-20-minute power nap is ideal. This short respite usually limits one to the lighter stages of non-rapid eye movement sleep, making it easier to hit the ground running after waking up.

The article also listed the 30-minute nap. This seems to be best to avoid as studies show sleeping this long may cause sleep inertia, a hangover-like groggy feeling that lasts for up to 30 minutes after waking up, before the nap’s restorative benefits become apparent.

The 60-minute nap is good for improving memory of facts, faces and names. It includes slow-wave sleep, the deepest type. The downside is some grogginess when waking up.

The 90-minute nap, my personal fave, is a full cycle of sleep, meaning the lighter and deeper stages, including rapid eye-movement sleep. This sweet hour and a half of blissful slumber leads to improved emotional and procedural memory and creativity. A nap of this length usually avoids sleep inertia, making it easier to wake up.

So I can cross the 10-20-minute power nap off my list because it takes me at least that long to fall asleep. I lie there and think and listen to my heart beat and the sounds outside and think some more and then it’s over. I accomplished nothing other than lying still for a few moments.

The 30-minute nap also seems to be a waste of time because it takes an hour to nap and then recover from the nap and I’m not sure I wouldn’t feel the same as when I started. Again, a waste of time.

So we’re left with the 60- and 90-minute versions. Still listed with a downside, I’ll scratch the hour nap off the list, too.

That leaves the 90-minute nap. The holy grail of naps. It checks off the items on the list of why I’m taking a nap in the first place.

Now I just need to figure out the best time to take a nap. It seems between noon and 4 p.m. produced the best results. Thank goodness. My urge to nap usually falls within those hours.

So now I’m off to conduct my own research. It must be thorough and repetitive to gain the best results.

Happy napping!

 

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