Wednesday, June 29, 2016

To Nap, or Not To Nap?

With 3 out of 10 U.S. adults now clocking in 6 hours of sleep or less per night, it makes sense that daytime napping would be a viable solution for recovering some of that lost slumber.

Sleep is essential for your mind and body. It keeps you alert and focused. It helps cement memories. It may even boost your immune system, protecting you from illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. Given the benefits sleep can impart, napping should be a no-brainer for better health, right?

Unfortunately, the research has doled out mixed results. For instance, napping may relieve stress and improve alertness. It may also be good for your emotions. One study found napping may thwart negative feelings like frustration and impulsiveness.

But daytime napping may have a dark side.

Some past studies suggest napping may shorten your life. That may be especially true if you nap for more than 1 hour a day. One possible reason for this connection: People who nap more may have an undiagnosed health condition. Napping has been linked to diseases such as diabetes and depression. Or people who nap may simply not sleep well at night — a serious hex on your overall health.

More research is needed to fully decide if napping is a boon or a bust for your health. But it still may not be the best way to make up for lost slumber. Why? Naps don’t give your body enough time in deep sleep. That’s the most restorative stage of sleeping.

Yet, many people all over the world enjoy napping on a regular basis. For example, siestas are a daily ritual in Mediterranean countries. And experts recommend naps for people who work the night shift, suffer from jet lag, or have narcolepsy — a sleep disorder that causes a person to fall asleep suddenly and unexpectedly.

If you want to take a daytime nap, here are some tips that will help you better catch that extra shut-eye.

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