Taking time to nap is often reserved for vacation days… wrongly! We should all give ourselves this rest daily, both for the body and the mind. Explanations with the neurologist Dr. Marc Rey, who also gives us his advice to practice it as it should be!
The importance of sleep for health
“For most people, it’s better to take a nap every day,” says neurologist and president of the National Institute of Sleep and Vigilance (INSV), Dr. Marc Rey. “It is indeed impossible to perform for eight consecutive hours of work, so it is better to keep a little time daily to take a nap,” he insists.
Sleep, under the control of the biological clock
Sleep “is part of the vital functions of the body such as respiration, digestion or immunity,” details the INSV. But we can’t directly control our need for sleep. This is specific to each one and is controlled by the biological clock, present in our brain. It is also thanks to it that we are rather active during the day and at rest at night.
Sleep to recharge the batteries
Sleep is“essential for maintaining the functions of learning, memorization, and adaptation to new circumstances,” explains the INSV. It also plays a key role in daily well-being and helps “maintain connections between neurons, thus consolidating innate memory and acquired memory.”
Another function, sleep makes it possible to rest the body, or at least to reduce its energy expenditure while replenishing its stocks of metabolic energy thanks to the glycogen contained in the liver. Other functions of the body benefit from this “rest”, such as the cardiovascular system.
Sleep: a rest necessary to maintain health
In children, sleep is involved in the proper growth of the body thanks to a hormone secreted mainly during deep sleep. Once an adult, its importance remains paramount to maintain good health. Indeed, as the INSV explains, it also plays a role in the repair of muscles, skin, and bones, due to this same growth hormone. Finally, “sleep is also a privileged time of the constitution of immunity”.
Sleeping at night is certainly necessary but it does not generally cover the needs of the body that spends itself during the day. To deal with it, the nap proves to be your best ally, provided you use it effectively.
Nap, the basics to know
Several studies have proven the benefits of napping on memory and concentration. “Napping is also an ally to fight stress, regulate the cardiovascular system and improve responsiveness. Finally, it is the best way to regain your good mood,” recalls the National Institute of Sleep and Vigilance.
The best time of day to rest
For it to be beneficial, napping should not be done at any time of the day. “It is indeed between noon 3 p.m. that the time is most propitious because it is around these hours that we have a drop in alertness,” says the neurologist who specifies that we are tired after lunch, even without having consumed too large meals. “It’s natural because since we’ve been awake since the morning, we’ve already spent half a day with our waking system working. He, therefore, needs rest and the nap will allow him to eat.”
According to the specialist, there is also an hour not to be exceeded and especially after 5 p.m., at the risk of “lowering our sleep pressure and therefore having more difficulty falling asleep afterward”.
Short or long nap?
In adults, there are two types of naps, depending on their duration:
- The so-called “short” naps that last twenty minutes at most: here, the goal is not to produce sleep but to rest its awakening system through a letting go, in order to find the form just after. “This is the usual nap in adults when they are not in chronic sleep deprivation.”
- Longer naps, called “recovery” that usually last between an hour and an hour and a half: this should not be daily, but only when night sleep has been disturbed, resulting in a deprivation of needs.
Once these elements are taken into account, it is necessary to succeed in putting oneself in the right conditions…