Okay—maybe sleeping for 100 years and waking up to some strange prince kissing you does not make Sleeping Beauty the best role model.
But her sound slumber is definitely worth emulating, just to a less extreme extent (and preferably on a voluntary basis rather than through a witch’s spell).
Sleep is way underrated in most of our daily lives; I love to sleep. But I have to admit, when I have a tight deadline, it is one of the first things I sacrifice. The result? I feel terrible the next day.
Why Sleep is Good for Us
When we spend less time sleeping, we harm our bodies both in the short-term and long-term. It’s not just that sleep makes us feel refreshed and increases immediate concentration, studies have shown that the practice is linked to a number of positive health outcomes. People who get seven to eight hours of sleep a night have lower rates of obesity as compared to people who get less sleep.
In addition, sleep lowers the risk of a number of diseases including heart problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression and Alzheimer’s.
What about the midday nap?
Go ahead and take it! Our bodies get sleepy in two phases—once during day and again at night. Because of this, the midday nap offers a rejuvenating boost to help us function in our daily activities. According to sleep expert Dr. Sara Mednick, author of “Take a Nap,” the length of the ideal nap depends on your individual goal. For a brief power nap, to promote alertness, she recommends a 20 minute nap. For a total reboot to help with long-term memory improvement, a 90 minute nap is helpful. Ideally, naps should be done between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. so that nighttime sleep will not be interrupted.
So I want to sleep, but can’t. How do I do it?
Here are some tips from the National Sleep Society on how to fall asleep:
- Try to stick to a routine bedtime and wake up time, even when not working.
- Do something before bedtime to relax. Whether it be reading a book or listening to music, winding down helps us sleep better.
- Exercise, even when done lightly, can help improve sleep.
- Make the bedroom a peaceful haven, make sure that the bed is comfortable and that there are few distractions.
- Avoid alcohol, cigarettes and large meals late in the evening. Although alcohol might make us sleepy, it won’t lead to a peaceful sustained sleep.
So, let’s all take a cue from Sleeping Beauty. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could give the hours devoted to sleep equal priority to those we commit to work?
1. Bursztyn M, Ginsberg G, Stessman J. The siesta and mortality in the elderly: effect of rest without sleep and daytime sleep duration. J.Sleep. 25:187-91, 2002 Mar 15.
2. Naska A, Oikonomou E, Trichopoulou A, Psaltopoulou T, Trichopoulos D. Siesta in healthy adults and coronary mortality in the general population. Archives of Internal Medicine. 167:296-301, 2007 Feb 12.
3. Sayon-Orea C, Bes-Rastrollo M, Carlos S. et al. Association between sleeping hours and siesta and the risk of obesity: the SUN Mediterranean Cohort.
4. Obesity Facts. 6: 337-47, 2013. National Sleep Foundation. Healthy Sleep Tips. http://www.sleepfoundation.org/
Sara Mednick. Take a Nap http://www.saramednick.com/
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