Sleep has been on my mind lately because the Olympic celebrations downtown are forcing me to go to sleep about two hours later than I would like to. I have always preached and practiced the importance of getting some midday shut-eye.
For me, the habit began as an infant and continued through my early school years. My mother used to have to call my school to inform them I was not returning from my lunch break because I had fallen asleep at the table where I was eating. I have a hard time believing I could ever fall asleep in front of food but a mother’s testimony is golden. This apparently happened a lot until about grade two and I became conditioned to the social process of denying my basic need to rest. I kept this up until college where I, once again, began napping during the gaps between classes.
Even today I have a job where I make my own schedule – one that allows for a nap in the early afternoon for an hour or so. I do this almost every day, not just because it feels natural but because I’ve become keenly aware of the productivity that it generates throughout my day. In fact I had a nap right before making this post.
This new research has found that young adults who slept for 90 minutes after lunch raised their learning power, their memory apparently primed to absorb new facts.
Other studies have indicated that sleep helps consolidate memories after cramming, but the new study suggests that sleep can actually restore the ability to learn. Anyone who has the option, and takes advantage of strategically timed naps, already know this to be true. I find that I am just as productive at 8pm as I am at 6am when I start my day. How many of us can say that? To master the art of rest is vitally important, not only to boost brain output but to keep motivation high and to boost recovery during periods of demanding exercise, diet or life issues.
Studies show that 20 minutes of sleep in the afternoon provides more rest than 20 minutes more sleep in the morning (although the last two hours of morning sleep have special benefits of their own).
So you snooze button junkies are better off just getting up and saving it for when it counts. The body needs seven to eight hours of sleep per day. Six hours or less triples your risk of a car accident. Interestingly, too much sleep – more than nine hours – can actually be harmful for your health. Recent studies show that those who sleep more than nine hours per day don’t live as long as their eight hour per night sleep counterparts!
Sleep is cumulative; if you lose sleep one day, you feel it the next. If you miss adequate sleep several days in a row, you build up a ‘sleep deficit’, which impairs the following:
- Reaction time
- Information processing
I have run into people who seem to be proud of the lack of sleep they get and I usually think . . . geez, your life must be really disorganized if you can’t find time to sleep. Usually these are the same people who can’t find time to drink water or other simple health enhancing activities . . . arrgh!
Take home point: Get eight hours of sleep a night and nap for 30-45 minutes (if you can) when you need it and watch the quality of your life improve greatly.
You’ll never be successful on a exercise/diet program if you don’t take time to rest. Pushing yourself beyond your limits doesn’t impress anyone and will ruin you in the long term.
Ok then, nap time now!