The nap time controversy — Are daytime naps helping or hurting you?

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Naps undeniably remarkable. When those eyelids grow heavy, your head tilts forward, your notes grow illegible — what better feeling is there than to know Memorial Glade waits right outside, ready with all its cushy greenness to accommodate your blissful 15-minute shut-eye?

But how healthy are daytime naps, actually? This is the million-dollar question that seems to have conflicting answers. Recently, two opposing articles caught our attention — one entitled “The Science behind power naps, and why they’re so damn good for you” and the other “Daytime Nappers Die Young.”

Confused? You’re not alone.

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According to the first article, published in 2013, a power nap of about 10 to 30 minutes taken sometime between 1 and 4 p.m. “confers some serious cognitive and health advantages.” Apparently, these naps serve as energy- and brain-boosters, improving creative problem-solving, memory attention and retention, logical reasoning and overall mood and happiness. The article lists a series of studies that demonstrate benefits of napping, including a study on naps as a means to lowering blood pressure, and a NASA study from 1995 shows “vigilance performance improvements” in pilots. A study on the effect of six-minute naps found that these “ultra-short sleep episodes can improve declarative memory” — the kind of memory that allows us to recall long-term information.

An National Center for Biological Information study found that “A nap during the afternoon restores wakefulness and promotes performance and learning.” Apparently, the studies on napping are so convincing, companies are beginning to invest in them. Entities such as Google, Huffington Post and the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team, to mention a few, are installing sleeping pods created by MetroNaps in the workplace to foster a better working environment.

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Despite all the compelling studies on the positive implications of daytime naps, recent studies show some disagreement. The article “Daytime Nappers Die Young” lists a series of epidemiological studies that bring to light some risks associated with daytime napping. A 13-year study was published in the Oxford Journal about the relationship between napping and mortality in the British population. Apparently, the biggest risk comes from respiratory problems that napping is likely to induce.

The study found that “among the 16,374 men and women who answered questions on napping habits between 1998 and 2000, a total of 3,251 died during the 13-year follow-up.” The study goes on to state that in recent years, “there has been growing evidence of a relationship between sleep and the risk of mortality from all-causes and cardiovascular diseases.”

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So after all this research, the bottom line is, we’re still confused. Which sucks, because now we really don’t know whether or not sleeping on Memorial Glade is going to kill us.

Contact Tala Katarina Ram at [email protected].