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Archive for Monday, October 27, 2008

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Nab a quick nap to recharge

October 27, 2008

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www.journalsleep.orgThe official publication of the associated professional sleep societies.

www.kumed.com/default.aspx?id=2692The Sleep Disorders Center at KU Hospital.

www.sleepfoundation.orgThe National Sleep Foundation.

For 18-year-old Erin Bigler, afternoon naps are a regular routine.

"After class, I come home and take a nap and then get up and do work," the Kansas University student says. "It just helps my mind completely restart."

Experts maintain that getting enough zzz's can reduce stress and improve health and well-being, but many still ignore the doctor's order.

"In general, we are a sleep-deprived nation," says Bob Whitman, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the Kansas University Hospital. "In many individuals, taking a nap during the day would provide benefit."

For those lacking in sleep, catching up during the day can help, Whitman says.

"In those individuals who have significant sleep deprivation, taking a nap during the day would likely result in improved alertness and performance during the day and a decrease in accidents," Whitman says.

Whitman recommends short naps of 20 to 30 minutes to improve short-term alertness. Longer naps, he says, may leave one feeling groggy.

Lawrence resident Melody Hosler, 22, relishes her daytime doze.

The mother of a 1-year-old daughter says she catches up on sleep while her child is napping.

"She naps for two hours," Hosler says. "I may nap for 30 minutes to an hour. Usually right before her nap, she gets really cranky and, so, then I get stressed out. If I get to go have a nap, everything's much better. It prepares me for the next couple hours when she's going to be running around all the time."

But there's no rest for the weary, sometimes.

Lawrence resident Justin Engels, 23, says he typically gets about five hours of sleep at night, and he would take a mid-day break, if he could fit in the time between work and school.

"There's times when I'm just flat-out exhausted and not at my best," Engels says, "but for the most part I'm fine with it."

Whitman says research has shown that societies that practice daytime naps such as mid-day siestas see a reduction in coronary mortality by about one-third. Presumably, this is because of the fact that such naps can act as stress relievers.

Whitman says naps close to the desired bedtime should be avoided because they may make it difficult to get to fall into the regular bed-time slumber. And despite the benefits, he says, naps aren't always necessary.

"A daytime nap should never take the place of a good night's sleep," he says.

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