“I need my coffee“ is a common phrase lots of people mutter at the beginning of the day. They simply depend on caffeine to stay awake. WHY?

The answer is simple. They are not getting enough sleep; not just at night time but during the day.

Napping is a brief period of sleep during the day, when your body and mind take a break. Many cultures practice siesta, or nap around mid day. In fact recent studies have shown that a short nap, no longer than twenty minutes has many benefits for all ages:

– Recharges your tired body and mind.
– Makes you sleep better at night.
– Improves your mood.
– Enhances your visual and motor skills.
– Decreases your levels of stress.
– Improves your memory.

Moreover, people who take occasional naps showed a 12% decrease rate of getting heart disease, and those who constantly napped showed a 37% decreased chance of getting heart disease.

Can a 20 minute nap do all that? In fact it can do more.

Let me explain further. Sleep is a cycle and napping most of the time only happens in the beginning of the sleep cycle. The first 20 minutes is when your sleep is shallow not as deep and that’s where napping occurs/takes place. This shallow sleep stage is when your body as well as your mind start to relax.

A recent study showed that people who don’t take naps show poor work performance, decreased patience, and lower cognitive functioning. If you want to do well on the job, give up caffeine which incidentally increases your levels of stress and try getting some sleep at night as well as napping midday; which makes you concentrate, work better and decreases stress levels.

How to nap the right way?

– Nap everyday at the same time.
– Let your nap be between 10-30 minutes, during the first few days set the alarm, don’t go into deep sleep. If you do, your brain will remain in a sleepy mood after you get up and you will feel groggy!
– If you work till late afternoon, take your nap at work! Yes, right there in your office on your office chair or couch. In fact, the act of closing your eyes and relaxing can give you similar benefits of those of taking a nap.
– Listen to soft music, it can help you relax.
– Don’t take your nap close to bed time.
– Finally be consistent, make it a habit.

Next time someone tells you that napping is a waste of time and will disrupt your sleep cycle, you’ll know otherwise. Happy siesta!

– Dr.Yasmin Abdulghafour, MBCHB/MRCGP

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