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March 8, 2011
This issue of Sleep Chat is dedicated to my mother. She died a few weeks ago after a long illness.
In Today's Chat:
• Power napping: To Nap or Not to Nap, that is the Question
• A Little Success Tip
• Are You Sharing Your Bed With...Bugs?
• Final Words for Today's Chat
*** Power Napping: To Nap or Not to Nap, that is the Question ***
I loved my mom. And one of the lasting memories from my childhood and teens years was my mother curled up on the couch taking her daily nap.
Mom practiced what sleep experts now call habitual napping. This is where a person takes a nap at about the same time everyday. At around 2 p.m. most days of the week, mom would simply lie down and drift off to sleep for 15 to 30 minutes.
Then she'd bounce back up and be her sweet self the rest of the day...full of energy to bake us five kids some cookies or wash a mountain of dirty laundry.
Was mom on to something taking her short daily power nap? Should you try to sneak in a nap every day?
Well let me tell you, in honor of my mother, I decided to really dig into this question. I've just conducted a fairly extensive review of the scientific literature and newsletters about napping and was surprised to see how much research is being done in this area of power napping.
Unfortunately, especially in American society, if you're not a baby, old, or sick—and you take a nap—you're considered a lazy slacker.
So I'm going to show you why that's a bunch of rubbish.
I looked at napping for college students, doctors, nurses, pilots, air traffic controllers, shift workers, and adults 50 and older. (Napping babies are a different ballgame and I won't write about those little ones here.)
• One study of first-year college students in Spain showed they tend to take long naps, well over an hour in length. (I have also read that Spaniards, in general, suffer from a high rate of sleep deprivation.) Not surprisingly, college students around the world tend to skip sleep a lot, staying up all night to study. These long naps are an attempt to overcome severe sleep deprivation. But research has shown that these long naps are nowhere near as healthy as short power naps of anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes.
• A study of nurses and doctors on the night shift (7:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m.) who were allowed a 40-minute nap during the night performed better on the job. They were more alert, had fewer performance lapses, handled IV insertions better, and reported more energy. It just makes sense to let these people nap! After all, our health...and lives...are in their hands.
• Research by NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration has shown that pilots flying long distance across the Pacific were more alert and performed better when they took 40-minute naps. And air traffic controllers have also been shown to benefit from napping.
• Other research has shown that night shift workers who were allowed to take short naps...and who also consumed beverages with caffeine...had more alertness and better performance. It was the combination of the caffeine and nap that worked best.
• However, another study, when comparing just napping against just caffeine, napping was better than caffeine when it came to memory recall. To me that means that if you're not a caffeine drinker, you'll still get the health benefits of napping.
• A study out of Germany showed that a mere 6-minute snooze can boost short-term memory. One of the things this study brings up is the absolute importance of sleep for living a full, active, and most importantly, productive life.
• A very interesting 6.3 year study from the University of Athens Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health showed that napping has heart benefits. It was a big study too, tracking 23,681 Greek men and women. Study participants who took siestas (napping three times a week for 30 minutes) had a 34% lower risk of dying from heart disease. Amazing! Even occasional napping lowered risk by 12%.
And finally, let's look at older adults.
Napping is common in adults 55 and older. Studies show that up to 60% of them may nap at least once per week. Healthy seniors do enjoy and get the benefits of napping. On the other hand, for those seniors who are in poor health, napping could be a sign of, or due to, an illness. Napping could also be because of daytime sleepiness caused by poor sleep at night.
And one question that often comes up is whether or not napping during the day makes it harder to sleep at night. One study showed that there was no difference in sleep quality at night for older nappers versus non-nappers, meaning that napping did not affect the ability to sleep well at night.
Another interesting study showed that older adults who napped in the evening did not impair their ability to sleep at night. Go figure! That goes against the conventional wisdom of not napping after 3 or 4 in the afternoon.
So here are several napping tips for just about anyone.
1. Feel free to take power naps. The benefits of power napping are:
• better performance, including memory performance
• increased productivity
• enhanced problem solving
• improved mood
• more alert and feeling fresh
• increased safety
• good heart health (perhaps napping lowers stress)
2. The best length of a nap for better performance during the day appears to be about 10 minutes. However, anything up to 30 minutes is fine for most people. Set an alarm clock if you have one so you won't sleep too long.
3. Those napping for longer than 30 minutes need to be aware of something called sleep inertia. This is a state of grogginess that occurs if one naps too long. If your job requires you to be alert immediately after a nap, and you've taken a 40-minute nap, allow yourself time to fully wake up before operating machinery, driving, etc.
4. Unless you're a night shift worker, it's probably not a good idea to nap after 3 or 4 p.m. The key thing here is that if you have insomnia, pay close attention to when you are napping. You may want to experiment to see if earlier naps work better for you than later naps. As always, keep your doctor informed if you do have any insomnia issues.
5. Try to nap where the room is cool (not cold), dark, and quiet. Turn your cell phone off and unplug any phones, if possible.
6. If you're driving your car, and you feel sleepy, for goodness sakes get off the road and take a 10 or 20-minute emergency nap! Drink some caffeine and then take your nap. When you wake up, the caffeine will be kicking in. Driver sleepiness is responsible for hundreds of traffic deaths every year. And studies have shown that people who drive drowsy are just about as bad as drunks on the road.
7. Businesses would be wise to find a way to allow their workers to take naps, if possible. Years ago when I worked an 8 to 5 job, I would go out to my car and doze off for 15 minutes or so at lunchtime. I always felt better. Maybe that would work for you too.
8. And I'll bet you didn't know this: Internet search giant Google has "nap pods" that block out light and sound so their employees can get some shut eye.
Finally, especially here in America, we need to get over the stigma that says that people who nap are lazy. Believe me, my mom wasn't lazy. She was simply a smart power napper.
*** A Little Success Tip ***
Want more profits in your business? Or more success in your life so you sleep better at night?
Here's a big key:
"Profits are a measure of the service you render." F. Leroy Hill
So how well are you serving others? Are you providing REAL value to them?
And don't think this doesn't apply to you because you don't own a business. It applies even if you have no business. It applies if you're an employee...a spouse or mate...or someone's friend.
As the great Harry Browne said in The Secret of Selling Anything, "It is a simple fact of life that if you do not make people happy, they aren't going to do business with you—on any basis." And, "The extent of your own profit depends upon your ability to satisfy the needs and desires of others."
The point here is, give to others. Share what you know. Make yourself valuable. Doing that can't help but make your life more successful...and enjoyable.
*** Are You Sharing Your Bed With...Bugs? ***
There has been a lot of press lately on the epidemic of bed bugs. But with spring coming soon, which brings on pollen and the allergy season, there's another bug in your bed I thought I'd talk about—dust mites.
This bug causes allergies in many people around the world. Allergies in turn create congestion, which can effect your sleep. In fact, allergies and congestion can also make snoring much worse. The fecal droppings from dust mites are also major factors in sparking asthma symptoms.
So I was reading through some issues of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology to see what can be done about mites. (This journal makes great bedtime reading material!)
And one way for you to deal with dust mites is to block them from penetrating into your mattress where they then set up colonies. And also to keep allergens already in the mattress from escaping and effecting your breathing as you sleep.
An old mattress may have 2 and 1/2 times as many dust mites as a new mattress. We're talking hundreds of thousands...even millions...of these little allergy-producing critters.
Here's what to do. Studies have shown that encasing your mattress, box spring, and pillows in non allergenic covers can dramatically cut exposure to the allergens these mites produce. Covers that are smooth, as in plastic or vinyl, seem to work quite well. You can get them at most stores that sell sheets, pillow cases, etc.
One other thing to keep in mind is to wash your sheets and pillow cases once a week in hot water. Cold water is not effective against dust mites. And as much as we all hate to dust, at least try to keep your bedroom as dust free as possible.
*** Final words for today's chat ***
"Success is a ladder you can't climb with your hands in your pockets." —Anonymous, American Proverb
People from over 75 countries come to my Sleep Passport website. Some have businesses, some don't, some want to start a business. Even so, they all have something in common. They not only want to sleep better, they also want to live full, meaningful, and successful lives.
Does that describe you? I believe it probably does.
That's why, along with topics on sleep and health, success is also one of many themes you and I will be exploring together in Sleep Chat.
Simple. If you want to sleep better, you first need to be confident you will find a successful solution to whatever is keeping you up at night.
Being confident is a big part of success in life. (By the way, one of the best things I have ever read on confidence was in a book called Overachievement by John Eliot, Ph.D.)
Let's take a success example.
Millions of people are losing sleep every night because they are worried about something. Maybe it's money. So this worry is a byproduct of the fact that you have not been successful in reaching your financial objectives.
There's no crime in that. The crime is quitting. Giving up. Thinking you will never find that which you seek. In other words, not being confident in your own mind.
You then end up tossing and turning in bed every night with a mind that won't turn off the worry.
Therefore, for you and I to get a good night's sleep...to have a thriving business...to make more money...to lose a bunch of weight...whatever it is...we must understand success.
And get our hands out of our pockets and start climbing the ladder to the top.
Lastly, I would like for you, dear reader, to chime in and participate in Sleep Chat if you have something valuable to say. Because you know stuff that I and other readers don't know.
What's your better-sleep secret? What's your success secret? What keeps you up at night? What other topics would you like me to chat about in my emails? How can I be of better service and value to you?
Just reply to this ezine and give me your thoughts.
For now, I'm outta' here.
We'll chat soon.
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