Ask Dr. Mednick
Now that you know how to get the most out of sleep, share what you’ve learned with your friends, family, co-workers, or even that guy who sits next to you on the bus. Better yet, tell them to take this course. The more people we can help sleep better, the better we all will be. Below are Dr. Mednick’s answers to common questions she gets about sleep and naps.
1. Will naps affect my nighttime sleep?
Usually not. A power nap will almost never affect your nighttime sleep because you’re not robbing yourself of slow wave sleep or sleep pressure. If, however, you take a long nap late in the afternoon, you could be reducing that sleep pressure too much, which could make it hard to fall asleep. To avoid this, don’t take long naps too late in the day.
2. Does the need to nap mean I need more nighttime sleep?
Absolutely not. If you’re napping because it makes you feel great and it doesn’t take away your nighttime sleep, you’re napping because it makes you smarter and healthier. Napping should be an addition to good nighttime sleep.
3. How long can I nap and still consider it a nap?
Usually a nap is between five minutes and three hours. Anything beyond three hours is considered nighttime sleep.
4. Should everybody nap?
Naps aren’t for everyone. Some people shouldn’t nap because they feel awful and are annoying to others when they wake up. In that case, consider exercising or taking a walk outside instead.
5. When should I seek professional help for sleep problems?
There’s never a bad time to see someone for help or advice. Maybe your regular doctor has knowledge about sleep problems and can direct you to a sleep expert. If you have trouble during the day staying awake, you should see a doctor. There are a variety of sleep disorders that can be corrected or treated with treatments or alternative solutions.
6. How does sleep change as we age?
Sleep changes in drastic and subtle ways as we age. Mostly, we lose what we remember as slow wave sleep and REM sleep because of more frequent urination during the night. This fragments sleep and makes it harder to get into its deep stages. Based on my research, it looks like this loss of sleep negatively impacts memory.
7. How does this apply if I work the night shift?
People who work the night shift are usually sleep deprived. The best you can do as a night shift worker is to nap right before you go to work and try to go to bed as soon as you get back from your shift.
8. How can I beat jet lag?
1. Stay awake until it is nighttime where you land/stay
2. Take melatonin as a natural sleep hormone; it will be very helpful to reset your internal clock.
3. Take a 20-minute nap when you get tired, and when nighttime comes, go to sleep at a regular time.
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