In need of a nap? Don’t be sheepish about counting sheep

MIAMI – Jim Angleton’s workday begins before dawn, so when his eyes get droopy by midafternoon, he just leans back at his desk and takes a nap.

“If I feel tired, my body is trying to tell me something, so I will excuse myself, shut the door, sometimes put headphones on and listen to music, and just put my head back and disconnect,” said Angleton, 56, who owns a Miami Lakes financial services company.

Are you yawning yet?

Go for it: Today is Napping Day, an unofficial holiday created in 1999 by now-retired Boston University professor William Anthony and his wife, Camille, to help people adjust to Daylight Saving Time.

After losing an hour of sleep by setting clocks forward, many in the workforce will drag through today; hence the need for a power nap.

“You get refreshed, you get re-energized and you get destressed,” Angleton said. “I highly recommend it if you can get away with it. It’s got to be good for the soul.”

Everyone needs to sleep. Newborns require as much as 18 hours a day; adults, as a general rule, seven to nine hours, the National Sleep Foundation says.

“Sleep is essential for your overall well-being, quality of life, for your mood, for your growth, and also for the prevention of diseases, because the lack of sleep can trigger inflammatory response in your body and can make you more susceptible to infection,” said Dr. Alexandre Abreu, co-director of the UHealth Sleep Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

Naps can help, as long as they do not interfere with your nighttime sleep, which creates a vicious cycle, he said.

One-third of adults take regular naps, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center. And more men (38 percent) reported napping than women (31 percent).

While naps do not necessarily make up for inadequate or poor-quality nighttime sleep, a short nap of 20 to 30 minutes can help improve mood, alertness and performance, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Naps are not right for everyone. Nap for too long, and you might be groggy instead of refreshed. Daytime sleeping could lead to insomnia. And if you have trouble sleeping at night, a nap may exacerbate the problem, Abreu said.

In fact, the need for a nap may be a sign of a disorder, like disruptive sleep apnea or narcolepsy, he said.

“Take naps because it’s cultural, as long as it doesn’t interrupt nighttime sleep, or because you have poor sleep and need to perform at driving or work, so you’re protecting yourself and others from your sleepiness,” he advised.

Sleep stats

How much sleep a day should people get?

Newborns: 12 to 18 hours

Infants (3 to 11 months):

14 to 15 hours

Toddlers (1 to 3 years): 12 to 14 hours

Preschoolers (3 to 5): 11 to 13 hours

School age (5 to 10): 10 to 11 hours

Tweens and teens (10 to 17): 8.5 to 9.25 hours

Adults: 7 to 9 hours

Source: National Sleep Foundation

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