Naps have restorative and adaptive functions. The restorative function helps your body recover from the work it did while you were awake. Sleep is also important for thermoregulation and energy conservation. Therefore, sleep serves a biological homeostatic function. On the other hand, the adaptive function can be explained by the theory that sleep may be a result of the need for animals to protect themselves at nighttime, the best period to save energy and avoid being killed. There may be times when you do not get sufficient sleep at night. Therefore, taking naps is advisable to help you regain the restorative and adaptive functions of sleep.
Importance of Taking a Nap
Note that sleep has two main stages: non-rapid eye movement (NREM) stage and rapid eye movement (REM) stage. The greatest release of growth hormones occurs during the latter part of the NREM stage, and this release helps repair damaged cells and tissue. According to studies on sleep, this latter part is characterized by delta waves. If you do not reach this stage during the night, you would feel exhausted or you would not be in tip-top condition during the next day.
An average refreshing sleep lasts 7 to 8 hours. If you miss a full sleep during the night, then taking power naps could help you. The best time to have a power nap is during the afternoon, approximately 8 hours after the time you woke up. For instance, if you wake up at 6 a.m., the best time to have a nap would be at 2 p.m. However, you do not need to be overly conscious of this 8-hour span. There will be telltale signs that you need a nap, such as feeling drowsy and yawning frequently.
The recommended duration of a nap is 15 to 30 minutes. Beyond this, you would feel groggy, and this is because of the sleep cycle. When you take a nap that lasts beyond 30 minutes, you reach the deeper stages of sleep and it would be harder to wake up.
Studies show that it is better to take a power nap than to extend your sleep by 1 hour in the morning. By taking naps, your stress level and stress hormones are reduced, your mind becomes more alert and you prevent the progression of skin aging.
Effects of Insufficient Sleep and Lack of Naps
You might have noticed that your skin looks sallow or you look haggard when you miss a full night’s sleep. This is because sleep allows your body to rejuvenate your skin. One of the important events during sleep is the release of growth hormones, which promote the production of new cells and renewal of old ones. If you reach the delta wave stage during the night, damaged skin (from trauma and free radicals) will be repaired.
Accordingly, if you chronically miss taking full sleep or power naps, your skin would age more rapidly. You will notice more lines and wrinkles on your face, as well as dark circles under your eyes. If you have wounds, they would not heal as fast.