We have all heard it before, “I can function just as well if I sleep for only 5 hours at night, any more than that is just wasting time.” Numerous international studies have now debunked that theory. However, for those times when you cannot get a refreshing night’s sleep, a little day nap will help.
Check out this snippet from an interesting article in the Washington Post.
President Donald Trump prides himself on getting by with just 4 or 6 hours of sleep at night, which leaves him plenty of time early in the morning to scan cable TV news and tweet before going to work. During last year’s rough-and-tumble campaign, he scoffed at “low-energy” rivals Republican Jeb Bush and Democrat Hillary Clinton for carving out nap time.
“No naps for Trump! I don’t nap,” the 71-year-old Trump bellowed during one campaign stop. We don’t have time.” Yet, history is replete with powerful leaders and warriors such as Napoleon, Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy who routinely napped in the afternoon, regardless of the crises swirling around them. “Nature has not intended mankind to work from eight in the morning until midnight without the refreshment of blessed oblivion, which even if it only lasts twenty minutes, is sufficient to renew all the vital forces,” Churchill once wrote.
Increasingly, science is siding with the nappers, with researchers finding that short sleeps not only are beneficial to drowsy individuals and the elderly but also are essential to public health, public safety and economic productivity.
“Now, I don’t know Donald Trump nor have I done sleep studies on him,” said Philip M. Alapat, an assistant professor specializing in pulmonary disease and sleep disorders at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “But the number of people that can truly function optimally with 4 or 5 hours of sleep on a nightly basis are scarcely few.”
DISRUPTING BRAIN CELLS
An international team of neurologists recently published a study showing how sleep deprivation can disrupt brain cells’ ability to interact and communicate. A night of lost sleep can result in temporary mental lapses that impair memory and distort visual perceptions, according to the study published in early November in the journal Nature Medicine.
Itzhak Fried, the senior author of the study and a professor of neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and Tel Aviv University, said in a statement that his team discovered that “starving the body of sleep also robs neurons of the ability to function properly.”
In a recent study by researchers in the University of Pennsylvania, they found that a moderate nap in the afternoon coincided with improvements in people’s thinking and memory prowess, and may have helped the brain perform as if it were five years younger. The study, published by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, focused on 3,000 older people in China and examined whether those more inclined to take brief naps performed better on mental ability tests.
PART OF A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
Afternoon napping is prevalent among older adults in China and is considered part of a healthy lifestyle. Scientists found that people who took a nap after lunch did better on the mental agility tests than those who did not sleep in the middle of the day. Overall, 60% of people in the study slept after lunch, for an average nap of 63 minutes. The study concluded that 1 hour was the optimal nap length and that people who had much longer or shorter rests — or no naps at all — performed up to six times worse on memory and math tests.
The latest research dovetails with longtime warnings about the dangers of insufficient sleep, which the National Institutes of Health says can lead to “physical and mental health problems, injuries, loss of productivity, and even a greater risk of death.”
Over the years, sleeplessness has quietly grown into a pervasive problem. One-third of American adults regularly get too little sleep, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly half of all American adults complain that poor or insufficient sleep affects their daily activities at least once a week, according to the National Sleep Foundation. What’s more is that an estimated 50 million to 70 million Americans have chronic sleep disorders, according to a health survey for the CDC.
Without at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep at night, Americans face a tough slog getting through the day and leave themselves more vulnerable to illness. Scientists have linked sleep deficiency to many chronic health problems, including heart and kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, obesity and depression.