Why not take a nap today?

Fortunately, I’ve never been afflicted with insomnia.
When I go to bed, I usually reflect on something upbeat. And before I know it, it’s morning and time to get up.
On the other hand, I have a long-standing practice of going to bed very late–a practice I inherited from my mother.
In her late 70s and early 80s, sometimes my mother would get up in the middle of the night and bake a batch of cookies. Then when the cookies were done, she would go back to bed and sleep.
Her sister from upstate New York had the same family sleep patterns.
One time my mother called her sister at 2 a.m. (CST), which was 3 a.m. Aunt Naomi’s time.
Sure enough, Aunt Naomi was awake and reported that her teen- and 20-something daughters were downtown picking up hamburgers.
Although I go to bed late, I don’t think I’m sleep-deprived because almost every day I enjoy a refreshing nap.
And sometimes I have two short naps–one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Both with my legs elevated, which is important as you age.
Before retirement, I split my lunch hour in two parts–one half-hour to eat lunch while the other half-hour sometimes was dedicated to a walk with a friend.
?But more often, I took a nap. I would lock my office door and lie on the floor for 30 minutes, using a coat for a pillow.
Andrew Weil, my favourite alternative doctor, recently posted an article about the importance of naps. He reported that people who nap regularly have better mental health and mental efficiency than those who don’t take naps.
And amazingly, he also said naps improve nighttime sleep (although some of my friends would dispute that statement).
As far as the mental efficiency, recent studies corroborate Weil’s statement. Researchers have shown that even a 10-minute nap improves performance.
But naps should be brief. The optimum nap is less than 30 minutes—longer naps actually may reduce productivity, researchers say.
The book “Take a Nap! Change Your Life. The Scientific Plan to Make You Smarter, Healthier, More Productive” reports on Sara C. Mednick’s nap research.
Mednick began her research when she was a graduate student at Harvard. She felt sleep-deprived and survived her busy days with caffeine and splashes of cold water on her face.
Then one day, she had a short nap on a couch in her office instead of her regular cup of coffee. She was so surprised by the effectiveness of the nap that she began researching naps.
Now, she is a leading authority on the subject.
Napping is “written in our DNA,” says Mednick. Even animals are “multiphasic,” which means they do not get all their sleep in one long stretch, she notes.
Mednick joins other authorities who say that the urge for a midday nap is built into our body’s biological clock. A practice we have forgotten in our busy world.
In addition to making you more alert and productive, daily naps reduce stress and boost creativity. And the best news of all is that naps reduce the risk of heart attack.
So now that you know how good naps are for you, why not have one today!
Marie Snider is an award-winning health-care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@aol.com or visit www.visit-snider.com

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