Let’s Hear It for the Siesta, Riposo, Afternoon Snooze, or Power Nap
Whatever name you choose, there is a long tradition in favor of a short nap in the afternoon. Many cultures favor a short mid-day sleep, often after a big meal, especially in hot climates.
Popular for centuries, modern day science now also acknowledges the benefits of catching some Zzzz, with the recommended length between 15-30 minutes. According to various studies, it is preferable to stay within the first two of the four main stages of the sleep cycle. Stages One and Two are a light sleep; Stage Three is getting into deep sleep and Stage Four is REM (rapid-eye movement) sleep where most dreaming begins.
When we stay in the 15-30 minute range, we can wake refreshed and rejuvenated, and not only feel more rested, but we often experience increased productivity and enhanced cognitive functioning. If we go beyond 30 minutes it can be harder to wake up, we can feel groggy and it can also interrupt our nighttime sleep.
So it seems that there is real value in mid-day snoozes, and the key is not to nap too long.
According to an article in the Atlanta Blackstar, September 2, 2012,
“Albert Einstein, Leonardo Da Vinci, Nikola Tesla, Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy all have one thing in common: daily mid-afternoon naps. Linked with clarity, increased performance, memory, mood and even heart health, naps are an economical (and fun) way to boost mental and physical health.”
The history, the science and the believers seem clear. For me, there are two additional indicators that are both convincing and compelling that napping is a very good thing to do. It is seen in the innate wisdom of puppies and children.
As the author of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, Robert Fulghum explains, “Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap.”
Duke, my Wire-hair Fox Terrier, really enjoys naps and highly recommends them. What better authority could one have?
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