Health

Catching 40 Winks

  • March 1, 2021
  • 2 minutes read

When sleep pods start sprouting u all over the CBD district, you know that adults are taking power naps seriously.

Singaporeans work an average of 45.9 hours a week, according to statistics from the Ministry of Manpower. That’s an average of slightly over nine hours a day – one of the highest in the world. When you are tired and sleepy, you become less alert mentally. You also put your physical health at risk as too little sleep can weaken immunity and cause weight gain.

Being sleep-deprived affects your body’s release of insulin, a blood glucose-lowering hormone, causing you to have higher blood glucose levels and putting you at risk of type 2 diabetes. It’s believed that a good night’s rest helps your blood regulate stress hormones and ensures your nervous system remains healthy. Five or fewer hours of sleep a night could hurt the body’s ability to regulate stress hormones, increasing the risk of high blood pressure.

Pros and Cons of Napping

Rather than a caffeine fix, a power nap could be just what you need.

Napping can improve your productivity by combating fatigue and improving your concentration. It can increase alertness in the period directly following the nap and may extend alertness a few hours later in the day.

Studies have shown that napping regularly may reduce stress and even lower risk of heart disease. A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness by 100%.

However, napping might not work for everybody. Some cannot sleep anywhere but their own bed. Others have trouble sleeping during the day; forcing themselves to take a nap could cause more stress. Naps may also leave some with sleep inertia, which is a feeling of grogginess ad disorientation from awakening from a deep sleep. A long nap or a nap taken too close to bedtime may affect the length and quality of overnight sleep.

Three Types of Naps

  • Planned napping involves scheduling a nap because you know you will be up later than your usual bedtime.
  • Emergency napping is essential if you find yourself nodding off while driving or operating heavy machinery. Pull off the road or stop what you’re doing and rest until you’re up to the job.
  • Habitual napping is the practice of napping at the same time each day, such as after lunch every day.

Dos and Don’ts of a Good Nap

  • Nap at the right time – It’s best to take a nap after lunch, when the body’s energy level takes a natural dip.
  • Keep it short – If you need short-term alertness, the tight amount of time for a refreshing nap is 20-30 minutes. This short window puts you in the non-REM, or the lightest, stage of sleep. You may enter deep sleep if you snooze longer, making you wake up feeling you less alert than before the snooze!
  • Limit caffeine intake – Try not to reach for coffee in the afternoon. Excess caffeine later in the day can leave you all hyped up and unable to fall asleep at night.

Watch for Signs of Exhaustion

If you’re constantly feeling tired even with adequate overnight sleep and nap time, your body could be sending you other messages.

It could be related to anaemia, high blood pressure, thyroid issues, pre-diabetes, heart disease or depression. In more serious cases, it could indicate acute blood loss or cancers like leukaemia.

If you’re experiencing appetite and unintentional weight loss, it could signal chronic kidney and liver problems, anaemia and heart disease. You may even be suffering from sleep apnoea, which is breaking your sleep pattern without you noticing. Sleep apnoea can lead to heart conditions, high blood pressure and chronic fatigue.

But before you press the panic button, make sure you get a good 24 hours of rest, and that you’re eating well and drinking enough fluids. If you steel feel exhausted, get a health check.

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