A recent CNN article described the benefits of having a nap. When you had poor sleep in the previous night, a noonday nap is a great way to recharge your energies. But many people chronically get less than 7 or 8 hours of sleep at night, so they are always sleep-deprived. They, too can benefit from a noonday nap.
On March 15, 2021 was National Napping Day. This annual reminder of the importance of napping was created by Professor William Anthony. He was a psychology professor at Boston University who was instrumental in having the yearly National Napping Day approved starting in 1999. He wanted to remind Americans how important it is to catch up on missing quality sleep.
Circadian hormone rhythm
Although a nap is useful and energizing, we need to limit it to 45 minutes or less. Naps longer than 45 minutes can affect our circadian hormone rhythm. This natural sleep rhythm helps us at nights to reach a deep sleep and it regenerates our hormones.
Effect of naps on the heart
A 2019 prospective Swiss study of the effect of naps on cardiovascular health went on for 5.3 years. The study found that 1-2 naps per week were optimal in terms of reducing the heart attack rate, stroke or heart failure by 48% in comparison to controls who did not nap. More frequent naps and longer naps reduced heart attack rates only by 11%.
Women study regarding sleep deprivation and weight gain
A 2020 study involving 500 women from Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center investigated sleep quality in relation to dietary habits. The study went on for one year. The researchers found that the poorer the sleep quality was and the less subjects slept, the more women consumed added sugar, coffee and saturated fats. This is important to note as these women with poor sleep quality and a lack of sleep overate, had weight gain and got type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease.
Napping improves the quality of nighttime sleep, which can remedy the craving for unhealthy foods.
Chinese study of napping in people older than 60 years of age
A study from China involved a total of 2214 elderly patients above the age of 60 (1534 napping patients and 680 non-napping control patients).
They all received cognitive assessments, Mini-Mental State Examinations and neuropsychological tests. 739 patients also volunteered to take blood lipid tests. These blood tests showed higher triglyceride levels in the napping patients, while HDL, LDL and total cholesterol showed no significant change. Napping showed significant association with improved cognitive function, language, memory and orientation. A previous study has shown that afternoon napping for up to 60 minutes four times per week can reduce the risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease by 84%.
Napping in the afternoon up to 45 minutes has been an underutilized tool. It can help to improve cognitive function, language, memory and orientation. In addition, napping reduced the risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease by up to 84% . The investigators of a study that reviewed here said that more research likely will show us details about how napping works. A tired brain may release inflammatory substances that cause cognitive deterioration and Alzheimer’s disease. On the other hand napping at least 4 times per week is a powerful tool to counter any negative processes in the brain.