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Health How an afternoon nap affects your body and brain

23:26  11 february  2018
23:26  11 february  2018 Source:   businessinsider.com.au

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Our research (not yet published) has found those who regularly nap report feeling more alert after a brief nap in the afternoon when compared to those who only nap occasionally. Another research group found that motor learning, which is where brain pathways change in response to learning a new skill

I’m a big fan of afternoon naps . In fact, I was super excited when joining Buffer to hear about how the team is pro- napping . I’ve heard lots of people say naps don’t make them feel better, so I wanted to explore how naps affect your brain and whether they really are good for you or not.

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You may be familiar with that feeling of overwhelming sleepiness during the mid-afternoon. It’s common, occurs whether you’ve eaten lunch or not, and is caused by a natural dip in alertness from about 1 to 3pm. So, if you find yourself fighting off sleep in the middle of the day and you’re somewhere where you can have a nap, then do it.

Taking the time for a brief nap will relieve the sleepiness almost immediately and improve alertness for several hours after waking. And there are many other benefits too.

Understanding why we nap

People nap for lots of reasons, some which are:

  • to catch up on lost sleep

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    You may be skeptical whether a nap during daytime might leave you feeling drowsy or affect your night’s sleep. Do you feel tired in the afternoon ? That is because of mental and physical strain. A peaceful snooze can keep your mind and body relaxed throughout the day.

    Under the Hood. Behavior, Neuroscience & Your Brain . Runner's High? You're Growing New Brain Cells. However, that does not mean napping habits affect nighttime sleep or vice versa — while not offering definitive explanations, the study suggests a person’s ability to nap reflects how well they

  • in anticipation of sleep loss to avoid feeling sleepy later on

  • for enjoyment, boredom or to pass time.

Napping is relatively common. In fact, about 50% of us report taking a nap at least once per week.

Napping rates are greater in countries like Greece, Brazil and Mexico that have a culture of siesta, which incorporate “quiet time” in the early afternoon for people to go home for a nap. In such countries, up to 72% of people will nap as often as four times per week.

The perks of napping

Naps are not only beneficial because they make us feel less sleepy and more alert, but because they improve our cognitive functioning, reaction times, short-term memory and even our mood.

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Research suggests that drinking 150 to 200mg of caffeine just prior to a 20 minute nap appears to be the best way to do this. How does it work? There is a naturally occurring chemical in our brains called adenosine. Adenosine is used by the body to promote sleep, and every hour you are awake

Our research (not yet published) has found those who regularly nap report feeling more alert after a brief nap in the afternoon when compared to those who only nap occasionally.

Another research group found that motor learning, which is where brain pathways change in response to learning a new skill, was significantly greater following a brief afternoon nap for regular nappers when compared to non-nappers.

In fact, the overall benefits of naps are similar to those experienced after consuming caffeine (or other stimulant medications) but without the side effects of caffeine dependence and possibly disrupted sleep at night time.

How long should a nap be?

The amount of time you spend napping really depends on the time you have available, how you want the nap to work for you, and your plans for the coming night. Generally speaking, the longer a nap is, the longer you will feel rejuvenated after waking.

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By Belle Beth Cooper long Read. I’m a big fan of afternoon naps . I’ve heard lots of people say naps don’t make them feel better, so I wanted to explore how naps affect your brain and As I mentioned in my post about the body clock and your body ’s best time for everything, we’re naturally designed to

Long naps of one to two hours during the afternoon will mean you are less sleepy (and require less sleep) that night. This could mean it will take longer than usual to fall asleep.

If you are planning to stay up later than usual, or if taking a little longer to fall asleep at bedtime is not bothersome, time your nap for about 1.5 hours. This is the length of a normal sleep cycle. You will experience deep sleep for about an hour or so followed by light sleep for the last half an hour.

Waking up during light sleep will leave you feeling refreshed and alert. However, waking during deep sleep will not. If you sleep too long and miss the light sleep at the end of a nap, chances are you will wake up feeling sluggish and drowsy. If you do experience feeling drowsy after a nap, don’t worry – this feeling is temporary and will go away after a while.

Another option is to have a brief “power” nap. Brief naps of 10-15 minutes can significantly improve alertness, cognitive performance and mood almost immediately after waking. The benefits typically last for a few hours.

Power naps are great because you won’t experience any sluggish or drowsy feelings after waking. This is because you do not enter any deep sleep during this brief time.

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So we're convinced that naps are good for body and brain . The next question is: How long should we nap for optimum results? I'm awake, relaxed, and ready for the afternoon . Why this length of time? Well, it takes me a solid five minutes to quiet my mind and body and even get to the beginnging

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Research suggests, a brief, early-to-mid-afternoon nap provides the greatest rejuvenation when compared to naps at any other time of the day. However, if you’re struggling to stay awake, a brief nap taken at any time can be help keep you alert.

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