A good night’s sleep is essential for a healthy body and mind but what about those afternoon naps? This article will talk about the benefits of afternoon siestas!
We all love to sleep. Its one of the most peaceful moments of the day. But most of us don’t know the important benefits related to sleep. Apart from rebooting our system, in a way, it also helps in memory formation. In this article, we are going to talk about the overall benefits of sleep but also the power of taking naps in between.
The Importance of Sleep
Sleep plays a very important role as it helps crystalize emotional information, that we gather throughout the day. It also helps us control how we feel. When we are asleep, our brain is encoding information based on the experiences from the day. Which makes the act of sleeping extremely essential for preserving memories.
Emotional memories, researchers argue, are unique because of the way the influence our amygdala, our brain’s emotional core. This core is what makes our memories of wedding days or funerals or anything emotional, remembered carefully. Such emotional days are better remembered than other days.
A good night’s sleep is extremely good at transforming these experiences into emotional memories. That is why it is recommended that we get at least six-eight hours of sleep every day.
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Not All Sleep Are Equal
However, not all periods of sleep are equal. The sleep we get a night, the long 6-8-hour ones, are the ones in which we go through several phases of sleep. This is known as REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. It is closely associated with our emotional memories. Researchers argue that more REM sleep makes people better at assessing other people’s emotional intentions and also in recalling emotional stories.
Another thing that happens when are in the REM phase is related to our Prefrontal Cortex. Prefrontal Cortex is the most developed part of our brain. Researchers also call this location of our brain where we have the impulse to keep calm and not react to things immediately.
When we are awake, this part of the brain keeps our emotions in check. But this connection is reduced when are in REM sleep. Our brain also paralyzes our body during REM phase, otherwise, we would be constantly moving, which could hurt us.
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Naps or Slow-Wave Sleep
But there are also other kinds of sleep which do not feature the REM phase. These are naps. Naps are also known as ‘Slow-Wave’ sleep and it’s usually the phase of sleep. It also helps consolidates memories. But are they effective in keeping our emotions in check as the REM sleep does?
Researchers in order to answer this did a study with children to see the effects of naps. The study found that the children who didn’t take naps were grumpier and mentally exhausted. And the children who took naps were, as the researcher called ‘cool as a cucumber’.
In adults as well, research has shown that afternoon naps help one destress and feel better during the day. Any stress or headaches or just normal issues of the day make the brain stressed, so afternoon naps help one feel better.
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The overall science of sleep is still complicated as research is still discovering new things. For example, a recent paper has argued that a longer duration of REM sleep leads to people getting depressed. The reason is not yet known but there are strong linkages.
This sort of findings just makes the overall phenomenon of sleep more complicated. But for now, what you should take away from this article is that sleep is essential for us. In the end, the best prescription for a heartache or a confused mind or a headache is to get a good sleep!
So, the next time your feeling low or feel stressed, try to take a nap. As science says it will help. Till then cheers and keep exploring yourself with Brainpundits.