Tag Archives: sleep

I need a nap!

23 Apr

I was never a napper before my heart attack. Naps, I used to believe, were only for people like my Dad, whose custom was to doze off after lunch for half an hour or so on the LaZBoy in our farmhouse. But now, I love naps! And because I live with ongoing cardiac symptoms (thanks to a subsequent diagnosis of coronary microvascular disease), I need those naps. If I skip my daily afternoon nap, I pay for it later by feeling sick and shaky.

Author/napper Toni Bernhard recently described in her wonderful Psychology Today column why naps are so important:

“Most people who are chronically ill benefit from scheduling at least one rest period into their day because it helps keep symptoms from flaring.” 

Yet paradoxically, she also notes that taking a “time out” by pausing to rest can be one of the hardest challenges that chronically ill patients face. Continue reading

In praise of the afternoon nap

18 Jul

cat nap green red

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

I have learned a valuable skill since my heart attack.  I have learned how to take naps.

Because I’ve never been able to nap until now, I used to be envious of my son, Ben, who is a world-class napper.  That boy started sleeping 11 hours a night by the age of five weeks, and has been looking for opportunities to snooze ever since: anywhere, any time, sitting up, lying down, on the plane, or (his favourite) stretched out on the couch after Sunday brunch.

Ben has been on the right track all along, according to scientists reporting in the Journal of Applied Physiology. Their report on the cardiovascular benefits of the afternoon nap suggests that a siesta habit is associated with a remarkable 37% reduction in coronary disease mortality, possibly because of reduced cardiovascular stress associated with daytime sleep. Apparently, the initial period of time between lights out and sleep onset is associated with the largest acute reduction in blood pressure during afternoon siestas.

Like most mammals, humans experience two periods of what sleep scientists call ‘forceful, persuasive sleepiness’: around 2-4 am and then again at 1-3 pm. An afternoon nap, like the tradtional siestas of warm-weather countries, allows you to grab some of the benefits of the sleep cycle without committing to a full eight hours.

Continue reading