August 18

Directors Column

August 2018 

Yawn…. I’m a bid tired as I write this.  It’s not because I didn’t sleep enough last night or was overly active yesterday.  I think that I’m tired because sometimes I just am that way!  It’s part of my natural ebb and flow.  Sometimes I am more energetic and sometimes I more tired.  In this case though, I hope that you can all indulge me as I think about what I really want to do right now which is TAKE A NAP!  The Google search of “Can I nap at work?” turns up 39 million hits. Of course I would never do that!!  But I can daydream about it?  In all seriousness, naps have a purpose in our lives and there actually is a right and wrong way to do it!

Several studies have shown positive impacts of catnaps.  Past research by the National Sleep Foundation has recommended naps for 20 minutes in general, but a new study has found that a 1-hour nap is ideal for improving memory and thinking skills specifically for older adults. This was determined by analyzing the data of 2,974 adults aged 65 and older. They looked at non-nappers, naps from 30-90 minutes, and naps 90 minutes and longer in duration.

All participants underwent a series of tests that assessed attention, memory, visuospatial abilities (like puzzles), mathematical tests, word recall, and figure drawing. These tests were given before a nap and after a nap and results were compared for each group.  Older adults who did not nap or napped longer than 90 minutes were significantly more likely than those who napped for 30-90 to have lower overall cognition scores.  On average, individuals that napped for around 60 minutes after lunch rated five times higher in cognition tests compared to non-nappers andextended nappers. 

It’s like you go to sleep for an hour and wake up 5x smarter!! In addition to cognition, napping offers various benefits for healthy adults including: relaxation, reduced fatigue, increased alertness, and improved mood. For people with depression, napping helps refocus attention away from bad experiences

To get the most out of a nap, follow these tips:

1) Take naps in the afternoon. The best time for a nap is usually midafternoon, around 2 or 3 p.m. This is the time of day when you might experience post-lunch sleepiness or a lower level of alertness. In addition, naps taken during this time are less likely to interfere with nighttime sleep.

2) Create a restful environment. Nap in a quiet, dark place with a comfortable room temperature and few distractions.  If you have trouble turning down your brain for sleep, try to listen to some soft music (not television) to fall asleep.  One study, published in a 2017 edition of the journal Sleep Medicine, showed that listening to music before napping helped patients sleep for more of the allotted napping time. They were also more alert than non-musical nappers when they woke up.

3) After napping, be sure to give yourself time to wake up before resuming activities .

Finally, remember that there is no ‘one size fits all’ here.  You were uniquely created as an individual.  Create a healthy rule that fits your unique situation. If you're experiencing an increased need for naps and there's no obvious cause of new fatigue in your life, (like a new sweetheart) talk to your doctor. You could be taking a medication or have a sleep disorder or other medical condition that's disrupting your nighttime sleep. Napping is not a cure for illness but can be used to restore a sense of wellness and vitality! 









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