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The benefits of napping.

Afternoon napping has little to do with eating a Large lunch. Our human bodies, naturally inclined to feel sleepy in the early to middle hours of the afternoon, will take the opportunity to nap, if it's given, regardless of how much we eat. Researchers at the University of Ottawa have found that young children, college students, and retired people nap the most.

Afternoon napping is rich in the most restful phase of slow-wave sleep, making it a very effective tool for catching up on lost sleep.

"A short 15-30 minute nap in the afternoon will leave you more rested than the same amount of time tacked onto a morning sleep," says Dr. Roger Broughton, professor of Medicine and Neurology at the University of Ottawa.

He has found, however, that insomnia sufferers shouldn't nap, because it can push their sleep cycles out of whack even more. They should concentrate on improving their nighttime rest.

A nap is defined as any period of sleep less than half as long as one slept the previous night, with most naps lasting between 15 minutes and two hours. After such a nap, one can have renewed energy and be ready to face whatever tasks one has to do.

Dr. David Dingers, a biological psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, warns folks to keep napping to no more than two hours, so as not to risk disturbing sleep patterns at night.

As for timing of naps, energy levels naturally dip between one and three in the afternoon, but any time one feels sleepy is okay.

Researchers have also found that taking a nap when you're facing a night of reduced sleep is more effective than making up the sleep later. Dingers found that students who stayed up for almost two days significantly improved their scores on reaction-time and mental drinking tests by taking just a two-hour nap beforehand.

One can feel groggy for five to 15 minutes after waking, which is known as sleep inertia. This occurs after both daytime and nighttime sleep. The deeper the sleep, the more pronounced the effects.

However, most researchers agree that the temporary inconvenience of sleep inertia is more than made up for by improved and a buoyed mood. Perhaps naps can be a way to help homesteaders accomplish their many varied daily and seasonal task with more efficiency and joy.
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Hunter, Julie
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Jul 1, 1993
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