By: Patrick K. Porter, Ph.D.
Are you one of those people who loves to crawl under a blanket in the middle of the day for a quick refresher? I’m not. In fact, I have difficulty napping during the day. My daughter, on the other hand, loves to nap. Give her 20 minutes and nothing else to do and she’ll be sound asleep in no time. It used to amaze me that she could do that, but now scientists are discovering there is an explanation as to why some people need a power nap more than others.
A new study using mice, conducted in Japan, and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that a specific gene mutation may increase the amount of sleep needed. As a result, researchers believe they’re learning more about why and how humans need naps as well. For this study, the authors built onto previous research into the mutation of a protein called SIK3 and examined how it affected the sleeping habits in mice.
By mutating this protein, scientists discovered that the mice needed more sleep and slept for longer, which was reflected in their brainwave activity. These findings are interesting because the mutation affected only periods of light sleep, such as occurs during napping, and not the deep delta states that we need each night.
Even though the study was conducted on mice and not humans, the researchers found that the amino acid in the mutation they were studying was also present in humans. They’re hoping that these findings will translate to humans, shedding some light on sleep disorders. It may also explain why some people have a strong urge to nap during the day while others don’t.
We already know that most people don’t get the required amount of sleep needed at night. And it’s clear that stress levels are at an all-time high. Consequently, we all need recovery time during the day, and that’s true whether you’re genetically inclined to be a napper or not. For my daughter, this means napping during the day is justified and should continue. For me, it means I need to take the time for a daily nap, whether I feel inclined to do so or not.
Napping is an important way to get the much-needed restorative rest we need to allow our brains and bodies to recharge. When it comes to napping, Sleep.org recommends 20 minutes to obtain the best benefits such as improved alertness, enhanced performance, and better mood. Anything longer and you risk falling into the deeper stages of sleep, which may result in feeling groggy upon awakening.
Many of you may be like me, needing the extra rest during the day but unable to fall asleep naturally. Or, maybe your brain won’t slow down long enough for your body to rest. If that’s the case, one of our many BrainTap audio sessions may do the trick.
If you’re like my daughter, you may feel the need for a nap but avoid doing so because of a tendency to nap for too long and awaken feeling a bit muddled. Fortunately, many of our audio sessions are strategically designed to play for 20 minutes and to simulate an appropriate sleep cycle, so you awaken feeling rested and recharged, as if you’d had deep, restful sleep. It’s the perfect way to reboot your brain and refresh your day, even if you’re like me and not genetically geared to be a napper.