KathyBou’s Blog

A sampling of things that are going on and around.

Are you a napper too?

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When I was a child, I lived next door to my grandmother.  This of course meant that my sisters and cousins and I were always running through my grandmother’s house – in the back door and out the front or vice versus.  Alternately we’d run around the outside of the house or see what trouble we could find in the big dark garage.

If there was one thing we knew, regardless of our recklessness, it was that proper respect had to taken for grandma’s nap.  From roughly 1 to 2 p.m., creating any noise within the vicinity was asking for trouble, and I mean BIG trouble.

I think my grandmother could be a used as a model for the perfect afternoon napper.  Her routine was a nap at the same time every day, and on this schedule she could get up early and stay up until 10 or 11 p.m.

So is the afternoon nap really good for you?

There has been a ton of research into sleep patterns and the rhythms of human activity.  Scientists have been investigating napping for several years also, both the 20-minute power or cat nap  (choose your favorite adjective here) and sleeps of 1-2 hours.

A NASA study by David Dinges had volunteers living on one of 18 different sleep schedules.  The sleep schedules combined various amounts of “anchor sleep,” ranging from about 4 to 8 hours in length, with daily naps of 0 to 2.5 hours.  The findings were that naps improve some memory functions but they do not aid basic alertness much.

Information overload?

Another study by Alan Hobson and Robert Stickgold found that power napping may prevent burn-outs.  Power-napping, which is defined as 20-30 minutes of sleep, is thought to maximize the benefits of sleep versus time.

Cornell psychologist Dr. James Maas states that

“…naps taken about eight hours after you wake have been proved to do much more for you than if you added those 20 minutes onto already adequate nocturnal sleep.”

Of course my grandmother doesn’t need research to prove what she already knows.   Do you take an afternoon nap when you get the opportunity?



Having the opposite problem?  Dr. Maas has some tips for falling asleep too:

  • Cut out coffee after two in the afternoon
  • Exercise, but not within three hours of bedtime
  • Take a really hot shower. If you raise your body temperature right before bedtime, then the process of cooling down is something that can bring on good sleep.

Written by Kat

November 10, 2008 at 10:18 pm

Posted in health

Tagged with ,

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