Is napping good or bad for your health?

Is napping good or bad for your health?

When it is hot, there is a great temptation to indulge in the pleasure of a nap. This break is not necessarily a habit for us in the south, but it can be beneficial for your health.

Sometimes considered a luxury, often necessary, the nap does not leave these few Liège residents interviewed this morning indifferent.

"Almost indispensable after a certain age, especially when you have children running around the house. It can do a lot of good," says one of them. "It happens to me often, not every day, but it lasts 10-15 minutes and it feels good," adds another.

Some like it long, others prefer it shorter.

"I don't really wake up: more or less an hour, an hour and a half," admits a young woman. "Half an hour, and I wake up automatically," says another.

This moment of calm or pleasure is in any case intended to be beneficial for our health.

"This is particularly beneficial for people who are in chronic sleep restriction, and therefore in chronic sleep deprivation. It can be a way to compensate for it, to get some sleep during the day. We have shown an improvement in cognitive performance, so there is an improvement in concentration capacity and reaction times. We can be more productive at work after a nap," says Julien Fanielle, neurologist at the CHU centre des troubles du sommeil in Liège.

A nap, yes, but not just any way

But is a nap always good for your health? At the University of Liège, a study on sleep aims to explore the impact of napping.

"Taking a nap chronically, so every day, taking it for a very long time, for example more than an hour, but also taking it at the end of the day, are 3 clues that could hinder good quality sleep at night," adds Christina Schmidt, a qualified FNRC researcher at the cyclotron research centre.

A nap makes children happier!

No, napping is not a "punishment", the children must understand it! On the contrary, it has only benefits for them, it is a scientific study that says so, not the parents!

"Go to the nap! ", a phrase that young children hear every day and that they often do not like. They would rather continue to have fun than go to sleep, rest or have a quiet time in their room. And if parents ask them to take a nap, it is not (only) to make them feel quiet for a little while during the day, but because it is good for their health. A study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, whose results appeared in the journal Sleep, shows this.

Napping: what benefits for children?

The study involved 3,000 children aged 10 to 12 years. It showed that those who practiced (or had practiced) napping for 30 to 60 minutes at least 3 days a week had benefited from its benefits.
  •  They had a greater joie de vivre.
  •  They were in a better mood because they were less tired at the end of the day, and therefore less grumpy, less excited.
  •  They had more energy.
  •  Their academic increased by more than 7% in high school.
  •  The nap also reduces the screen time!

Conversely, lack of sleep, which affects up to 20% of children, has negative cognitive, emotional and physical effects.

Now all that remains is to convince the children to take a daily nap this summer!

One nap a day, the best medicine

Queen of weekends and holidays, the nap should be practiced daily. It would thus repair the chronic sleep deficit, a real health scourge.

After a short night, we are out of phase and seized by carabinieri drowsiness that make our bed a dream oasis. We then think that sleeping only affects concentration and acuity. This is far from reality. During sleep, a battalion of agents are activated for our heart, our nutritional balance, the elimination of our toxins, the relief of our pain, our memory, our immune defences, our creativity and our mood. "While everything seems to be abandoned," observes Brice Faraut, a doctor of neuroscience,"a host of health care teams are relieving the body of the day's ills and strengthening it."

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That's why we talk about "restorative sleep"...

But this large adjustment is only possible after seven hours of night sleep, the specialist notes. However, because they work far from home and have to get up at dawn, are stuck on screens or sleepless (20% of the population), contemporary adults increase their sleep debt every day and put their health at risk - nearly a third of cardiovascular accidents are related to them. The solution? Take a nap every day, says Brice Faraut in Sauvés par la sieste, a brilliant book that is both scientific and practical. The researcher shows how a daily sum of 10 to 90 minutes, depending on age and needs, can dramatically rebalance the body.

The whole world is not sleeping enough

The number of people sleeping less than six hours a night is constantly increasing, the researcher points out. In the United States, this figure was 12% in 1998, it is now 20%. In France, more than 30% of 18-65 year olds only sleep five and a half hours a night. But the record is held by Korea, where 37% of adults spend less than six hours sleeping. Since small sleepers - this category of people for whom six hours of sleep is enough - represent only 7% of the population, the calculation is quick. The others, the 83% of sleepers whose needs are around seven to eight hours of sleep per night, are in chronic deficit. And we are not talking about the big sleepers, those 10% who struggle without their nine hours of daily sleep...

The symptoms of this debt? Frequent colds, headaches or back pain, difficulty concentrating, irritability, constant yawning. And this consequence, rather unexpected, but logical: because lack of sleep inhibits the secretion of leptin, the satiety hormone, not getting enough sleep increases the risk of obesity. Especially since the exhausted individual tends to confuse hunger and fatigue and prefers sugar to give himself a boost. In the book, night workers, such as truck drivers, carers or safety professionals, confirm this risk.

The micro-nap, overestimated

The solution? It's as simple as that. To regain or maintain your balance, you only need to fall asleep for at least 10 minutes a day, around 3 p.m., the time at which the circadian clock causes a decrease in natural energy. "In addition to great fatigue," says Brice Faraut,"nap fights pain, moroseness, immune fragility, stress, hypertension, overweight and cardiovascular disease, as does night sleep." Why, then, not take it seriously and give it a place equivalent to that reserved for meals? Especially since in nap paradise, everyone can choose the one they prefer. A short "nap" guide.

Without being totally opposed to it, Brice Faraut does not recommend the micro-siest, that of Dali who said he would fall asleep holding a pen in his hand so that he would wake up as soon as the object fell, because, says the neuroscientist, the 30 to 90 second flash nap does not reduce fatigue. Nor does it improve "subjective and objective vigilance, performance and vigour".

To each his own ideal nap

In terms of brevity, the specialist recommends a 10-minute nap, called a power nap by the Anglo-Saxons. It is most commonly used in the workplace because it revitalizes cognitive performance in the short term. It is the ideal nap before an important session or appointment. Since it remains in light slow sleep - one of the four phases of sleep - it avoids the effect of inertia or muddy feeling when waking up. In the best of worlds, it would be best to lie down for this quick nap, so as to avoid tension in the neck, but the person can also recline the seat of his office or car at 40°. On the other hand, this light nap does not reduce stress and does not brighten the beneficiary.

To achieve these results, you should aim for a 20- to 30-minute nap. This, which includes a phase of deep slow sleep, reduces stress, improves mood and strengthens immunity. Most importantly, it is the one that reduces the risk of cardiovascular accidents. Unfortunately, it can cause an inertia effect upon waking up. To fight against this inconvenience, one can either drink a coffee before falling asleep - caffeine takes 20 minutes to act -, or mentally program the time of awakening, or be woken up by a particular light, the one that blocks the secretion of melatonin, the sleep hormone, to soften the transition phase.

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The paradox for athletes

Finally, there is the one and a half hour nap, the one that allows you to complete a total sleep cycle and, therefore, to reach the phase of REM sleep, which also has its virtues. As a reminder, REM sleep is the ultimate stage during which muscle tone is flat and brain activity is at its peak. This is the time of dreams, which promotes the digestion of emotions and strengthens procedural memory - the memory that allows you to drive or ride a bike. "Athletes, musicians and dancers would do well to use this long nap to improve their movement skills," advises Brice Faraut.

This nap is also ideal in the late morning for people who have spent a sleepless night, which, in scientific language, is called "paying off an immediate sleep debt". Good to know for summer, a season that is conducive to frequent "immediate sleep debt repayments", right?

Take care of yourself. Learn to take a nap

This is a real public health issue. For the first time in France, the average sleep time has fallen below seven hours, with associated health risks such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. However, there is a very simple way to recover: take a nap.

Brice Faraut, doctor of neuroscience and author of Sauvés par la sieste, published by Actes Sud, speaks of a "medicine of the future". Researcher at the Centre du sommeil et de la vigilance of Hotel Dieu in Paris, he has published numerous scientific articles on the health benefits of napping.

Favour short naps

However, the nap is not yet considered to be equal to its profits in companies. According to the latest Public Health France barometer, only a quarter of French workers take a nap, compared to 50% in the United States and almost all workers in China, where this right has been enshrined in the Constitution since Mao's time.

The benefits of a nap depend on how long it lasts. Take short naps, what the Anglo-Saxons call "power-nap" and what Brice Faraut translates as "energizing nap". Ideal if you have slept badly and have an important appointment. Take 20 minutes: ten minutes to fall asleep and ten minutes of sleep. Set an alarm, you will wake up full of energy, with revitalized physical and intellectual capacities.

To increase your alertness, if you have to drive on the holiday road for example, take a 20 to 30 minute nap. And drink coffee just before to avoid waking up in a hurry. You will be in a much better mood and less stressed.

Be regular to avoid diabetes

And if you are really sleeping late, sleep an entire sleep cycle, between one and two hours, to get more deep slow sleep. These naps help to strengthen memory, promote creativity and strengthen your immune system. You are more susceptible to the virus when you are tired and recover less quickly.

The secret is to be regular. A long weekend nap is not enough to make up for five five five- to six-hour nights on weekdays. Two recent studies show increased risks of diabetes (ICI and ICI).

So take advantage of summer to introduce this new habit into your lifestyle. Listen to your body when you start yawning and have heavy eyelids in the early afternoon. Lie down in a quiet and dark place. Put your smartphone down, focus on your breathing and let it sink in. Since we tell you it's good for your health!

7 arguments to convince your boss to let you take a nap at the office

What if to gain efficiency at work... we slept? In this society where everything must constantly move, sleep often appears as a stable, too stable element, especially during the day and at work. What if we change our point of view?

Find here some ways to introduce sleep at work evoked by Brice Faraut, doctor in neuroscience at the Centre du sommeil et de la vigilance de l'Hôtel-Dieu, Frédéric Schiffter, philosopher and Alexandre Jost, founder of La fabrique Spinoza in the show Grand bien vous fasse.

We are less efficient in the early afternoon....

Brice Faraut: "You have to get out of the guilt of the nap at work. The French get up on average between six and a half and seven in the morning. In the early afternoon, their wakefulness system, stress systems support them less. This is a time when sleep pressure rises, and physiologically, they have a small drop in core temperature: they are less effective. As long as they're asleep: it's the perfect time to have the best recovery nap possible."

... However, a nap boosts efficiency!

Brice Faraut: "Sleep (including a nap) is a major contributor to brainwashing. During the day before, we accumulate a lot of toxic substances. Stress hormones heat the body".

During a nap with a little deep sleep, stress activity is reduced, people become more efficient and therefore more effective.

Frédéric Schiffter: "The "nap" comes from the word "sexta", the sixth hour after dawn. As it falls after lunch, we think it is a matter of digestion. But no: the nap cuts off the day. The art of the meridian adept is to have two days in one with a first morning and a second rise."

Better than carrots, napping makes (really) friendly

Brice Faraut: "The short nap (5 minutes) has effects on alertness, it helps you not to be sleepy at the wheel, for example, and it immediately has effects on mood, which is very pleasant, when working in community."

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Naptime exists in competitive countries

Brice Faraut: "If in France, one third of the working population takes a nap, in the United States and Japan, 50% of employees do. In the land of the rising sun, a state known for its quest for profitability, napping is even included in professional lifestyles to the point that executives who do not do it would be considered idle: if they do not need it, it is because they are poorly organized and do not cope optimally with their workload."

A nap limits the risk of getting sick, and therefore of sick leave.

Brice Faraut: "The average sleep rate of the French has fallen below seven hours per night. And the sleep in on the weekend is no longer enough to recover. Worse, by sleeping too much at weekends, the French would be in a "social jet lag". However, with lack of sleep, insulin resistance increases. Worse: if you sleep badly, you gain weight. A study has just shown that by sleeping five nights of five hours, you gain 800 g of weight. This is not related to eating more because you are awake longer, but to a reward system in the brain that pushes you towards food.

Rest in the middle of the day has anti-inflammatory effects, but also helps to strengthen memory. For its proper functioning, it needs to eliminate parasitic information, which is done during sleep. After six minutes of daytime sleep, learning is improved. In a recent study: students had to learn boring things in zoology. They had a choice between cramming, or cramming and napping. In the evening, those who had remembered better were those who had rested. Better: a week later, only those who had slept while learning, remembered it."

Daytime rest is not wasted time: it's a win-win situation

Brice Faraut:

In ten minutes of sleep, memory improves, tension decreases, attention increases, mood improves...

So these ten minutes are a time saving: it's a win-win situation. We gain vitality and efficiency."

Even the most pragmatic come to it

Alexandre Jost: "At the Spinoza Foundation, we are campaigning for a right to work for 15 to 20 minutes. It would be included in the mandatory annual negotiations and there would be an obligation to provide sleeping rooms.  The American recruitment firm Robert Alf reveals that 64 % of financial executives, i. e. people concerned about profitability, are not opposed to 20 minutes of nap time."

Why it is important to take a nap at lunchtime

The lunch break. Do you also have the right to it? We reassure you, nothing unusual about that, according to Annie Termeau, a sophrologist in Saint-Malo (Ille-et-Vilaine). On the contrary, this specialist in sleep and rapid recovery explains that this temporary fatigue makes perfect sense. And that it is good to remedy this by taking a nap.

A nap that will be beneficial for both the employee... and his employer. Explanations.
"Six or seven hours after getting up, the body needs to rest."

Should a nap at lunch be mandatory?

A nap is necessary because it is physiological. All mammals make them. Six or seven hours after getting up, the body needs to rest. Today, it is no longer disputed: the benefits of a nap are recognized by doctors and the scientific community because almost everyone suffers from a sleep debt. On average, we sleep less than 7 hours a night. In 50 years, we've lost more than an hour and a half of sleep.

Anxiety, heart problems, obesity...

What does this sleep debt change in our daily lives?

We have found that those who do not take a nap at lunchtime and who have this sleep debt suffer from anxiety, heart problems, obesity, etc.

A lot happens at night, during the sleep phase: we recover, integrate information, produce hormones that are all important... The fact of not getting enough sleep is a real public health problem.
20 minutes and it starts again

To compensate for this deficiency, you therefore encourage a nap at lunchtime. What is the ideal nap time?

20 minutes. No more, otherwise you enter a sleep cycle. Except for those who work nights or do the 3×8.

In 20 minutes, you rest, empty and recharge the batteries. If you go into a deep sleep, it is a 90-minute cycle and then you may wake up very muddy.

On a chair, in a car...

The perfect place to take a nap?

Ideally, it is to go home or have a nap room at work. The car can also be adapted. But never the bed, which is associated with deep sleep. The nap should always be taken in bright light, never in the dark.

It is especially important to find a place where you will not be disturbed for 20 minutes. An office chair can do the trick. Then it's up to you to find the right position for you, the most comfortable possible.
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We have the feeling that the nap still does not have good press in the business world....

The nap has a bad reputation. It is wrongly associated with laziness, even if the managerial lines are starting to move a little.

Some people understood that encouraging a nap was a real gain for the company. The person will be more concentrated, in a better mood, more vigilant and therefore more efficient. We also noticed that all those who take a nap are more creative. This is all to the benefit of the company.

And then, you know, someone who'll be tired at 1:00, will always be tired at 3:00....

It can be "a stroke of bar" as they say and it passes...

No. And don't think that a coffee will fix everything. It's a bad idea, like smoking. You have to accept the idea that your body simply needs a little sleep, to recover. I take a break and clear my head. It should be mandatory every day after lunch or before a long drive.
"It's not magic, you can learn it"

Okay, but do you still have to be able to take a nap...

It's not magic, it can be learned. There are techniques for breathing, contraction and muscle relaxation. Effective techniques even for those who are most resistant to sleep, who will be able to be at the limit of falling asleep and rest.