“At any given time, the human body is in a state of sleep called nap,” explains Dr. John DeNardo, chair of the Department of Surgery at the UCL School of Medicine. “All humans fall into three different stages of napping. The early stage is called the light period; the middle stage is called what scientists call REM (rapid eye movement) sleep; and the deepest stage is called deep sleep. Most of the physical functions of the body and mind are controlled in the deep stage of sleep.”
“What occurs in the middle or deep stage of a nap is the most important part of this type of sleep,” says Dr. DeNardo. “When the human body needs to do something it’s often easier to fall asleep then to rise.”
How does napping affect sleep?
A nap can cause the body to do different things throughout the night, according to Dr. DeNardo. These differences in sleep have been found to be different between people from different cultures. For example, people in Europe may have a stronger need to fall asleep. Many may find that the need to fall asleep is stronger in the middle of the night than in the night before.
In the morning, some cultures wake up with a more intense need to fall asleep than others.
Some studies have shown that people taking naps for periods of three to four hours before having to work actually do less work than those who sleep for longer periods. Others have found that napping for less than four hours before doing a job in the office actually increases productivity.
“What we’re all concerned about is that with people who are chronically sleep deprived – or people who have sleep apnea – in any number of people sleep is impaired,” says Dr. DeNardo. “If you get a chronically sleep-deprived person to spend a lot of time getting to and from the bed, there might be some impairment in their ability to work.”
How often is nap a good thing?
The science has come a long way since the dawn of the scientific method. And, while there are no hard and fast rules concerning what happens during naps, most experts agree that they are good.
“The napping habit has evolved so much that in many cases, naps can actually be detrimental because they don’t get the brain back to sleep and so on,” says Dr. DeNardo. “However, most people who are suffering from sleep deprivation do need to