Is napping a bad idea

Is napping a bad idea?

Do naps disrupt circadian rhythm

What is circadian rhythm

The word circadian originates from the Latin "circa diem" and meaning "approximately a day".
We are born with a biological clock ingrained in us, which is our circadian rhythm.
Our circadian rhythm is calibrated by presence and absence of natural light in a 24-hour period.
Our brain senses changes in the light through the optic nerve which is connected to the hypothalamus, where there is a cluster of cells known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN).
These cells are also responsible for regulating our body temperature, our heart rate, our blood pressure and specific hormonal release including melatonin which helps us sleep.

When do we need to go to sleep?

Typically for most adults, the circadian rhythm is set for sleep at around 11 pm and wake around 7 am. In the mornings when light hits our eyes and skin we begin to wake up. We begin to go through some physiological changes such as melatonin production decreases, our body temperature, blood pressure and heart rate rise and we fully wake up from our sleep.

Is circadian rhythm same for everyone?

These days a lot of people's circadian rhythm is different from others, especially due to modern life's demand and busy schedules. The majority of people nowadays have job demands and study commitments that are way outside the normal hours. As a result of that, we begin to develop disruptions in our circadian rhythm and are faced with sleep disorders, mild or chronic. If not regulated they can lead to much more serious complications than just a sleepless night, including exhaustion, confusion, chronic fatigue, obesity, diabetes, depression and other mental illnesses.

Why do we get sleepy during the day?

The reason a lot of us get sleepy during the day is simply because our circadian rhythm is off and we don't sleep enough, or the quality of our sleep is poor during the night. This, of course, can also be a sign of more serious health concern such as dementia, diabetes, depression which was revealed in a study of older individuals.

Coping mechanism of busy society

Napping during the day, of course, might be a coping mechanism when feeling tired and instead of reaching out for another coffee, napping for half an hour is indeed much more beneficial than consuming a stimulant. However, if you believe you are getting enough sleep during the night but struggle to get through the day with no naps, feeling groggy, fatigued and in a desperate need of a sleep, it then makes it a suitable topic of conversation with your doctor.

What do studies show

Studies suggest that napping for a short time of about 20-30 minutes through the day does not interfere with the circadian rhythm, however, a prolonged sleep of 2-3 hours during the day will definitely shift your body's clock and inevitably keep you up at night past your bed time. Another downside of prolonged afternoon naps is sleep inertia which is the post-sleep grogginess that can be difficult to shake off.

Are there any benefits in having a nap?

Researchers are finding benefits in napping. British researchers reported results from a study conducted in 2008 comparing getting more sleep at night, taking naps, and consuming caffeine as a coping mechanism with afternoon tiredness and the most effective approach was a nap.

A nap or a coffee?

Indeed, when being up for over 16 consecutive hours and feeling tired, it is no surprise that you will feel like you are in a need of a nap. By all means have a nap if possible, however, be aware that if when staying awake for a prolonged period like such, it is in your best interest to retire for the night instead of choosing just a short nap. In saying that, a short nap is a better choice than getting a caffeine of any kind. Keep in mind a short nap won't completely reset your timer but it can buy time before the symptoms of grogginess will start to begin.

Benefits of sleep.

Numerous studies report that the 20 to 30-minute nap may be the ideal pick-me-up tincture. So indeed, Is napping a bad idea, it shown that it isn't.
Dozens of experiments conducted by researchers at Harvard have indicated major benefits of sleep including improvement in memory, enhanced learning abilities, creativity in thinking. For example, other studies show that when the subjects were asked to memorize something such as a list of words and shortly after taking a nap, they would remember it better than if not napped, which demonstrates an improvement in memory retention. At Harvard, the researchers also discovered that those who napped were better at solving problems.

Final word onĀ Is napping a bad idea

As it has been said above sleep has numerous benefits for human body. If you are experiencing trouble in getting to sleep at night, I would recommend to stay away from napping during the day and instead try to go to bed half an hour earlier. If you sleep well at night and take less than 20 minutes to fall asleep, then short napping may suit you well. I personally find that when I was going to the university studying human biological science and had to listen to multiple lectures at home on my laptop, I would fall asleep during those lectures, waking up feeling exhausted and ready for more sleep but keep myself awake, knowing that I have to start the lecture again. When we have heavy mentally demanding jobs, study and routines, naps seems to help to get through those days as long as they don't disrupt our sleep at night.

For more information, refer to my books:
Fix my sleep book
Sleep now book


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