THE NATURAL HISTORY OF SLEEP
It is already proven that naps enhance performance, energy, learning, memory and alertness. And yet, in our culture it has become taboo to take naps as an adult. “A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness 100%.” via National Sleep Foundation
If we observe the natural world, our animal counterparts and the Long-Living cultures, we see how biologically normal it is to take naps. Our bodies are designed to sleep twice in a 24-hour period. Circadian Rhythm, when in balance, creates a flow that keeps our bodies asleep for 8 hours at night and a possible quick nap in the afternoon; best if you can plan it.
The circadian rhythm is the suprachiasmatic nucleus (in our brain) that receives information from environmental cues and communicates the timing information to the peripheral clocks in every cell, every tissue and every organ through the endocrine and autonomic nervous system. Desynchronization of these rhythms and disease is now pervasive in our society, given exposure to light at night and disruptive sleep schedules.*
OUR SLEEP HABITS HAVE CHANGED
We not only skip naps when our bodies are telling us we may need it, and we have also, collectively as a society, decreased our average night time sleep length. We are on average, getting 6.8 hours of sleep every night.
Experts typically recommend seven to nine hours sleep for adults. Currently, 59% of U.S. adults meet that standard, but in 1942, 84% did.
–JEFFREY M. JONES via Gallup
SOME FACTORS THAT DISRUPT NATURAL SLEEP CYCLES INCLUDE:
- Night time exposure to “blue-light” from computers and cell phones
- Exposure to excessive light in the evening
- excess water intake after 7 PM
- pets, children, restless partner
- Habits such as staying in the “work mode” until late
- too little natural light during the daytime