Stressed, anxious and sleepless? A nap can sort it out
Lockdown anxiety is causing sleeplessness around the world. The good news is you only need a short nap to get back on track.
In South Africa we’ve had more than enough reasons to have sleepless nights over the years. High crime; rising fuel prices; Jacob Zuma; what Moody’s is going to do next to our economy.
You name it; we’ve had sleepless night over it. Now, of course, there’s to lockdown to have sleepless nights about.
This time, though, South Africans are not alone. Health experts from around the world report that citizens of their countries are having the same problem – all brought about by worry, fear, anxiety about the future and sudden, massive, disruption to our normal routines.
This brings another set of difficulties: irritability, inability to focus on your work, a propensity to get your fingers stuck in the chainsaw, and a greater inclination to throttle the kids who are at home all day. You’re also more likely to get sick.
You can make up ‘lost sleep’ fairly quickly
One of the ways to reduce at least some of the above (you may be an irritable sod anyway, irrespective of how much sleep you have…), is to take a nap during the day. Experts say it really is beneficial and helps to top up that ‘lost’ sleep fairly quickly.
All you need to give yourself a boost is 10-20 minutes of nap time, which is achievable even for busy people. If you can manage around 30 minutes it is even better. Researchers at the Sorbonne University in Paris say a half-hour nap can reverse the hormonal impact of a night of poor sleep and get your immune levels, which are depleted by sleeplessness, back to where they should be.
Beware of the problem of sleep inertia
But if you nap for longer than that you could end up with sleep inertia, which is a period of grogginess and reduced performance caused by waking in the middle of deep sleep.
Depending on what you’re intending to do after you’ve had a long nap, sleep inertia can be a serious problem.
Take the example of an Air Canada co-pilot in 2011. According to Canada’s Transportation Safety Board, he had just woken up and was disoriented from a long nap when he saw the bright light of planet Venus ahead and mistook it for an oncoming aircraft. He took violent ‘evasive action’ that injured nine people on board, fortunately none seriously.
The board said he had fallen into a deep sleep, which meant had a level of confusion when he woke up.
What’s the best time to take a nap?
Experts say there are no hard-and-fact rules, simply because someone who gets up at 5am has a different body clock to a person who rises at 8am.
But they do warn that napping too frequently or too late in the day can disrupt your evening sleep pattern. Which, of course, leads to more insomnia and increased need to take yet more naps.