Afternoon Catnaps

7th Oct 2019
Afternoon Catnaps

Feeling sleepy in the afternoon

Is that afternoon shut-eye a sign of time-wasting, laziness and getting old? There's a stigma attached to it, but why? During a recent meeting of friends, ages 30 to 70, most of us admitted to an afternoon nap whenever we could. There was a sigh of relief as everyone realised they were not the only one afternoon-zizzing and that it was quite acceptable to do it.

Some say they often feel so sleepy in the afternoon that they have no energy, can't concentrate, and feel bad-tempered, but after a short nap, they feel alert, energetic and in better spirits. Others say catnapping is a sign of weakness and getting old, and it affects night-time sleep. So who's right, and does it really matter?

Feeling sleepy is our sign that we need to sleep, but we do it when it's considered acceptable. Babies sleep when they want to because there are no demands on their time. Children develop sleeping patterns enforced by parents and society. And adults can't just leave their paid jobs to take off into the land of nod.

There is evidence that suggests that normal sleep does not consist of one session a night, and that we are designed to sleep for about six hours during the night and about one hour during the day. Many people feel this is how their bodies normally react, sleeping less during the night and feeling they could easily drop off during the afternoon. 

What is important is the amount of sleep taken in a 24-hour period, rather than during the night. If society were to fall into line with the rhythm of nature, there could be fewer sleep problems. In some countries, an afternoon nap is standard practice. It can revive drooping energy, sharpen mental performance and improve mood.

A catnap lasts up to 30 minutes, a siesta between 60 to 90 minutes. After 30 minutes, you pass into deep sleep, and it may be difficult to wake up feeling refreshed. However, this varies from person to person, so do what works for you.

A catnap has many benefits:

  • makes up for lost sleep at night
  • gives the body an energy boost
  • improves mood, concentration, productivity
  • aids the digestion of lunch, allowing the body to absorb nutrients well
  • lowers blood pressure and stress levels
  • improves circulation which benefits puffy ankles and feet, and varicose veins.

When you take your catnap or siesta, lie on a bed or reclining chair to avoid bad posture, which could result in backache or a stiff neck.

Importantly, don't worry about what others say. If it appeals to you, just drift off and enjoy!

Copyright © 2019 Brenda Martin

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