Please! Do not take away my sleep

Please! Do not take away my sleep

Long daytime naps may not be in your best interest

Many of us developed a love for afternoon naps while in school because it was mandatory to “sleep” after lunch. It may have been a luxury to get restful sleep in one’s junior years but our brains got the message: sleep after lunch to get a boost in energy to prepare you for the rest of the day.

As the years rolled by sleeping after lunch for instance has become a mirage but everyone loves a “power nap”. The French do a great job when it comes to their afternoon break.

If you enjoy your naps, you may have experienced that feeling of extending your sleep once you go be­yond half an hour. It is that feeling of no turning back. On the other hand if you nap for just about 30 minutes you seem to have a new lease of energy.

I love naps whenever I get a chance to squeeze one in, but school had siestas that lasted about an hour so sometimes I love to revisit the days of old. A new research finding is however about to trample on that glo­rious time spent hitting on the snooze button and being at peace with the sheets, chair or even bench or floor in some instances.

We all appreciate that getting enough sleep is key to good health but this study suggests that long daytime naps may not be in your best interest.

The researchers found that long naps in excess of 40 minutes and excessive daytime sleepiness were associated with an increased risk for conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol; collectively referred to as metabolic syndrome.

The research showed that people who napped for less than 40 minutes were not at increased risk for met­abolic syndrome. In fact, those who napped less than 30 minutes had a slight decrease in risk.

The findings seem to point ac­cusing fingers at those of us who nap for over 40 minutes; that is when the problems seem to begin. I am sure you can confidently guess what happens when people nap for over 90 min­utes; the risk of developing metabolic syndrome increased by as much as 50 per cent.

“The review also found that nap­ping for more than an hour or being overly tired during the day were both linked with a 50 per cent higher risk for type two diabetes.”

“However, the study only found an association between these fac­tors, and did not prove that excessive sleepiness and long naps actually cause metabolic syndrome or diabe­tes.”

Is it possible that those of us who nap for long periods of time also avoid physical activity and probably over-indulge in comfort foods hence increasing the risk for these life-style diseases?

One thing is certain, you cannot go wrong with a short nap; it can be extremely satisfying. So while the sci­entists continue to explain and maybe confirm these findings, let us limit our naps to 30 minutes. If you have extra time take a walk or get some work done.

This may be a reminder that too much of even a good thing may be harmful. Sleeping has great benefits including reducing our risks for devel­oping heart and blood vessel diseases such as stroke, it improves our im­munity and also enhances our perfor­mance in all spheres of life.

Just as sleeping in excess of nine hours at a time has been linked with bad outcomes, excessive daytime nap­ping is now getting its “day in court”. Moderation in all things must be key!!

A 20-minute nap in the early after­noon may:

• Ease your stress

• Sharpen your memory

• Help you react faster

• Improve your job performance

• Boost your energy

• Lift your mood

• Make you more alert

How long did you nap today?


Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel

Health Essentials Ltd/ Mobissel


*Dr. Essel is a medical doctor with a keen interest in Life Style Medicine, holds an MBA and is ISSA certified in exercise therapy, fitness nutrition and corrective exercise. He is the author of the award-winning book, ‘Unravelling The Essentials of Health & Wealth.’

Thought for the week – “Sleep is an important component of our healthy lifestyle, as well as diet and exercise,” says Dr. Tomohide Yamada. “Short naps might have a beneficial effect on our health, but we don’t yet know the strength of that effect or the mechanism by which it works.”


1. WebMD News from HealthDay by Robert Preidt

2. Extract from “ the importance of obtaining adequate sleep” by Dr. Obo Addy

Long daytime naps may not be in your best interest

By Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel

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