There are different opinions on the subject of daytime naps. Some say that it helps to recuperate, calm the nerves and even increase the body’s productivity. Others again claim that it disrupts the biological clock and throws off the work rhythm. Who is right?
Both, and both. As always, the devil is in the details. Let’s first look at the benefits of a short nap.
A nap regenerates the brain
It has been proven that during a nap, the production and circulation of cerebrospinal fluid increases. Its intensive circulation accelerates the excretion of toxic waste products from the brain. In other words, a nap lasting 20 to 30 minutes has a detoxifying function, “cleaning the brain” in the literal sense. One of the products removed is so-called amyloid, the protein that gives rise to the deposits characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease.
A nap fights stress
The first 20 minutes of a nap are the time of maximum production of serotonin – the hormone of happiness, which not only dilates blood vessels, improves circulation and brain function, but also stimulates the pleasure center. Therefore, after a short nap, a person feels extremely refreshed and well. A nap after lunch helps fight stress and also increases the body’s performance and the brain’s cognitive abilities.
When can a nap be harmful?
There’s a reason we wrote earlier about a nap lasting 20 to 30 minutes. Such sleep brings the benefits mentioned above. But what if a person falls asleep for more than 30 minutes?
A nap lasting about an hour makes us feel insecure and anxious when we wake up. Why does this happen? Well, after half an hour we fall into a deep sleep phase. During this time, our breathing becomes shallow, our heartbeat slows down, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, our muscles relax and suddenly… the alarm clock sounds. You get up completely wrecked.
It takes time to restart all processes – sometimes even two hours. Man precipitated from the phase of deep sleep is not able to actively act and work. There is no question about the crispness, increase in productivity or good mood. An hour’s sleep is one of the worst variants of a nap.
A nap lasting an hour and a half is such a sleep without rest. On the one hand, the phase of deep sleep is over, on the other – a person wakes up a little disoriented. The muscles haven’t had time to return to form, they are not ready for action. Man would like to lie still, he is as if suspended between sleep and waking. In such a state he cannot get back into the rhythm of work.
What is wrong with a two-hour nap? The sleep hormone
We are left to discuss a nap lasting two hours, although actually we are talking about sleep in this case, because two hours accommodate all the phases that change in succession. After two hours a person gets up in a good mood, rested, full of strength and energy. However, there is one “but”.
The problem is that a two-hour nap disrupts a person’s diurnal rhythm. The sleep hormone melatonin is produced in a certain amount during the day. With a two-hour nap, a person will deplete an essential portion of the day’s melatonin, which is not enough for nighttime rest. As a result, when bedtime comes, there will be a problem with falling asleep. The night’s sleep will be incomplete, not bringing the desired rest.
The conclusion is one: sleep hard and long at night, and during the day – if you feel tired – allow yourself an invigorating nap of up to 30 minutes.
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