No Siesta equals No Fiesta
What is it about napping that is consistently overlooked in adulthood but not in childhood? In today’s fast-paced world, with hardworking individuals struggling to get enough sleep, this question doesn’t receive the attention it deserves. College and high school students are especially affected by this, as they are used to waking up early for seven-hour school days and getting to bed late due to homework. As a result, students are experiencing a lack of sleep. This leads to stress and anxiety, which can have serious consequences for their physical and mental health in the long run. As a solution, we must reinstate our belief in the benefits of napping throughout the day, as many European cultures and children do. In today’s society, mental health is a huge issue, especially among students. In order to solve this very complicated issue, which includes eliminating sleep deprivation and the physiological effects it has, we must tackle it step by step.
Infants and children are raised on the practice of a healthy napping schedule throughout the day. These napping periods play a vital role in the overall happiness of a child, and without them, children will be drained, whiny, and emotional. It’s amazing how we’ve adapted to the benefits of napping in our youth while remaining oblivious to those benefits in adulthood. We can blame this attitude towards napping in adulthood on the stigma it holds in the public’s eyes, especially in the western world, where napping is viewed as wasteful time management and lazy. There are many reasons why the skill of napping has died with us as we enter adulthood. Traditionally, transitioning from childhood to adulthood means you have to ‘grow up’ and stop doing childish activities such as napping. When in reality, this stigma is preventing quality mental health and energy. In the article When Should Kids Stop Napping by Alexa Fry, it states, “When children no longer take naps, they may need more sleep at nighttime.” It is recommended that parents make bedtime earlier for children who are no longer napping so that they get the necessary amount of sleep. Thus, without naps, children’s sleep is affected based on the amount of sleep they need to be considered healthy. Adults are expected to adapt to these healthy sleep schedules and thrive, but in reality, only 11% of working-class people and students get a healthy amount of sleep. This explains the drowsiness, laziness, and sleep deprivation so many people experience, but instead of turning to “grown-up” alternatives like nicotine, caffeine, or medication, the real answer should be naps.
For maximum potential, napping is something people need to be more educated about. Similar to a sleep schedule, napping needs to be regulated and organized. If not, naps can become irregular and extended, which may cause negative effects. For example, in the article Can a Nap Boost Brain Health? John Hopskins Medicine explains the benefits of a healthy nap schedule, saying, “Scientists found that people who napped for 30 to 90 minutes had better word recall—which is a sign of good memory—than people who did not nap or who napped for longer than 90 minutes. People who napped for that golden 30 to 90 minutes were also better at drawing figures, another sign of good cognition”. showing how naps ranging from 30 to 90 minutes several times a week can positively affect the brain and its ability to learn, perform, and memorize. On the other hand, the people who did not nap in this experiment saw substantially lower results. It’s so important to know this information because experienced nappers might oversleep, causing chaos on their sleep scale as a whole and furthering the problem at hand. John Hopkins’ medicine also states, “Resting more during the day may be a sign of poor quality nighttime sleep, according to Gamaldo.” In the study, naps longer than 90 minutes could have been called “a second sleep.” This poor-quality nighttime sleep—the kind that requires extra-long naps during the day—can lead to cognitive problems, she adds. thus proving that napping too much can have a negative effect on the body and brain. This is why people need to learn the fundamentals of napping in order to maximize its benefits and incorporate it into their daily lives.
Many Mediterranean countries like Spain and Italy participate in taking a midday “siesta,” which translates to a nap or rest break in Latin. For centuries, European countries have done this to give working-class people a break to rejuvenate during the hottest part of the day. These countries believe the “siesta’ plays a vital role in their ability to get through the day and stay functional. Some towns in Spain go as far as shutting down businesses between the hours of 2pm and 5 p.m. in order to enforce this rule. It seems these countries have come to socially accept the idea of naps and the benefits they offer. The western world needs to consider adopting these customs into their own lives, especially because the pace of life is so much quicker and work days are so much longer in the United States.
If your student or hardworking individual decides whether to incorporate naps into their daily routine, just ask yourself if you are struggling to get a healthy amount of sleep because of busy schedules and consider the various benefits that come with exercising a 30- to 90-minute nap per day. It is in your best interest to live a life in which you feel your healthiest on a daily basis. If napping is used so commonly in European countries and with our children because of its benefits, why can’t students and other adults use this practice as well? Especially because the evidence is so apparent that naps can help cure sleep deprivation, this also eliminates the need for unnecessary external substances such as medicine, drugs, or caffeine.
Napping has recently received increased attention because of its associations with health and its use as a tool to understand the function of sleep, with both areas of research showing positive effects on one’s well-being. In public health literature, some studies show that napping is associated with decreased mortality risk. Scientific evidence also shows that our brains benefit from a brief period of actual sleep (a nap), not just a quiet period, to recover from fatigue and to help restore alertness. Both short (15-30 minute) and long (1.5-hour) naps can increase alertness.
Because the benefits of napping can play a big role in the psychology and emotional functions of life, it is important to learn more about this topic and the information it has to offer. In healthy populations, studies show perceptual learning , memory, creativity, and alertness are directly related to the benefits napping provides. In addition, naps help promote homeostasis and recovery to immune functioning and other health risks as a result of sleep deprivation. Furthermore, people who nap for one hour or more daily, or nap due to excessive sleepiness, are likely psychologically, socially, and physiologically different from people who do not participate in napping at all. Thus, there may be differences in the health between individuals who nap voluntarily for relatively short periods of time versus individuals who do not nap at all.
Author Jay Summer explains how napping can be beneficial for the brain and body when used correctly. Summer explains in healthy circumstances where a person is regularly napping and not using the practice to cope with sleep loss or depression the benefits are substantial. Summer specifically explains how napping can increase functionality, performance, and memory especially in teenagers and students.
Naps can be particularly beneficial for students who struggle to get enough sleep and have to be alert at irregular times.A short daytime snooze may also boost workplace performance . A nap can improve cognitive functions such as memory , logical reasoning, and the ability to complete complex tasks.
Experts typically recommend that adults take naps eight or more hours before bedtime. For most people, that means napping no later than 3pm, napping too late in the day may contribute to nighttime sleep problems which could negatively affect the amount of rest you get and ultimately cause a downward spiral of mental illness. This is important because you want to make sure you are safely practicing your resting technique so you do not defeat the purpose of a good nap. A good resting environment is cool, quiet, and dark. Having a comfortable nap setting can help prevent unwanted interruptions or awakenings. Typically a bedroom is likely a good place for a short snooze since it is already set up to promote sleep. Adding blackout curtains or a white noise machine to block out distractions may help both at night and during daytime naps.
Author Afy Okaye goes more into depth about the numbers of society and napping today. Her studies tell us what percentages of adults and teens are actually using the benefits napping has to offer in their daily lives. The underwhelming numbers she found were very concerning, especially compared to the previous generation before us.
Cultural practices influence napping behaviors, with the frequency of napping at least once per week varying between 36% to 80% . Recent estimates indicate that 41%–74% of healthy American adults nap at least once per week.
What’s so shocking about how the western world views napping is how different it is from the rest of the world. In other countries it’s a custom to nap and is constantly sought out by the general public everyday. The Riposo, as it’s known in Italy, is a time for Italians to “retreat” from the hottest part of the day and rest. Similar to Spain’s siesta, the Riposo is a custom throughout Italy. Depending on your location, Riposo may take place anywhere from 1 pm to 5 pm. Many shops and stores will close during this time in order to enforce this rule. Shop owners and workers may go home, enjoy a delicious lunch, and savor time away from work. It’s a perfect time to settle in under a weighted blanket, close your eyes, and recharge for the remainder of the day. In Frank Olito’s Insider article https://www.insider.com/sleeping-habits-from-around-the-world-2018-7 he states “Here in the United States, people typically go to sleep at night and wake up a little after sunrise. Some people take short naps throughout the day, while others stay awake until bedtime. While sleeping patterns vary from person to person, the act of sleeping is common amongst us all”. Thus proving the irregular sleeping habits across the globe and how we can learn from them.
In conclusion, these studies on napping raise exciting possibilities for future research, such as examining the stability and structure of reasons for napping throughout the lifespan, as well as the psychological, social, and health processes associated with napping behaviors. Understanding the reasons why people nap, as well as the correlates of these napping behaviors, can provide insights into normal and destructive nap behaviors in healthy and unhealthy populations. As research advances and the public becomes more aware of the benefits naps can have on the mind and body, hopefully we see this art being practiced regularly. Thanks to foreign countries like Italy and Spain we know that this idea is not so far fetched and with the power of knowledge a change can be made. As society becomes more fast paced due to technological advances and more cases of depression and anxiety arise it’s obvious that the well being of students and society will suffer. Maybe napping is the answer to these ongoing problems.
Critics say that naps are useless in today’s society because it slows down the pace of production, makes people lazy, and disrupts sleep schedules. Not only do these opinions lack information, research, and common sense but they have negatively impacted the view society has on short rest.
“People who often nap have a greater chance of developing high blood pressure and having a stroke, a large new study has found. This may be because, although taking a nap itself is not harmful, many people who take naps may do so because of poor sleep at night.”
The idea that naps can cause high blood pressure and contribute to having a stroke sounds ridiculous. CNN fails to inform the public on the difference between a healthy and unhealthy napping schedule, rather focusing only on how a person who naps too late at night or irregularly is negatively affected. In the United States the majority of nappers are elderly which explains skewed results in these studies. How can we understand the true benefits of napping on the body and mind when we are testing individuals who irregularly nap and have developed brains? CNN is one of many news sources that mislead the public this way.
In reality, naps will improve one’s health. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found that napping was a factor in lowering blood pressure after mental stress. Because of this napping will be helpful for those who may have health issues. When the body gets rested, it refreshes and is able to recharge. The study showed that the brain goes through 4 different stages of sleep from the first throughout 90 minutes. In Stage one, the transition between wakefulness and sleep is only five to 10 minutes, during which time eye movements and heart rate begin to slow. Stage two begins at 15 to 25 minutes where brain waves and heart rate decrease further while body temperature begins to drop. This is still considered a light sleep from which you can easily be awakened. Stage three (60 to 75 minutes after falling asleep) the brain begins to produce slower brain waves known as delta waves. If awoken during this stage, expect to be groggy, disoriented and cranky. After 75 to 90 minutes of sleep the brain goes into what reachers call REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement), heart rate and blood pressure rise, eyeball movement increases and dreaming occurs. These stages differentiate what a heath sleep is versus a destructive one and why that happens.
Taking naps doesn’t just provide health benefits but can also offer energy throughout the day. “A short nap of 20 to 30 minutes can often be a healthy alternative to drinking more coffee,” says psychiatrist Alex. Working class citizens and students that are expected to be awake and functioning for the majority of the day which can be extremely exhausting. Instead of lasting all day without sleep and relying on addictive substances like caffeine, one should take a 30- 60 minute nap. Scientific evidence shows a short rest can boost memory, cognitive function, and energy.
Since we know naps can increase mental performance, they are useful in increasing knowledge. When tired, the brain does not collect information efficiently like it would when rested. High school and college students who regularly have early mornings, long days of learning, and extracurricular activities are most vulnerable to these effects. Sleep deprivation can be very dangerous to long term health and the developing teenage and young adult minds. Because of this, naps are very useful to those who have demanding jobs and those who are in school.
“Naps are beneficial for memory because the brain is ‘offline,’ not taking in any new information, yet is actively consolidating memories,” says Marissa Bowman, a doctoral student in the Clinical-Health Psychology program at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research focuses on sleep disturbances.
Taking a nap for too long or too late in the afternoon could make it harder to get high-quality sleep at night. A nap late in the day may have the benefit of reducing your fatigue at the moment, but it could also make you feel less sleepy and make it harder to drift off to sleep at bedtime. Napping should never be used as a substitute for sleep. If you feel the need to nap several times a week, you probably aren’t getting enough sleep each night. Officials recommend finding a comfortable, quiet, and dark place to maximize benefits. Understanding how the brain functions during different stages of sleep is crucial for the public to differentiate a beneficial nap and a useless one.
“The conditions your body requires for proper napping are no different than those required for proper nighttime sleeping. If you live or work in a loud or busy area, and especially for those based in a metropolitan city, a white noise machine can be a wise investment to help drown out sounds. Buchfuhrer says it’s best to keep the room dark, quiet and slightly cool.”
Overall, the science behind napping and how to incorporate it into daily life can be challenging, but finding time to nap will improve one’s health, body, and mind. Unlike some substances people rely on to stay focused like nicotine or caffeine; napping is more beneficial than destructive, a natural resource, and free. In order to live a happy and healthy life, take naps.
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