• 55°

Catching some Z’s when you can

I must admit I enjoy a good Sunday afternoon nap, even though I make an effort not to take one each week. But sometimes, the week is so crazy that I’m exhausted by the time Sunday rolls around, and I end up snoozing despite my best efforts.

Of course, it’s not just on Sundays that I find my eyes drooping. Any time I lose a couple hours of sleep, I find it harder to stay awake even while I’m trying to work or read.

I remember one time in college, I was dozing off while trying to take notes in a history class. Later when I looked over those notes, I realized they were mostly incomprehensible. For example, in one spot I had written “in the fish tank” instead of “in the West Bank.”

Needless to say, I had to ask a few classmates to compare notes that week.

Any of this sound familiar to you? I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who regularly struggle with feeling sleepy or tired or downright exhausted. Recently, I read an interesting NPR article about catching up on lost sleep. I thought I’d pass on the relevant information.

The article detailed the results of a study which was recently published in a scientific journal. The study found that a week of sleep deprivation (five hours or less each night) affected metabolism, including weight gain and insulin sensitivity. Chronic sleep loss may even increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

That’s quite concerning, but there is some good news too. The article also explains that our bodies are quite adaptable. One bad night of sleep isn’t going to have a long term affect on you. Focusing on getting some extra sleep in the next few days will usually make up for the couple of hours lost.

So let’s say you stayed up late a few nights during the week and lost a couple hours of sleep. Research shows that you can make up that lost time with extra sleep during the weekend.

I guess my Sunday afternoon nap isn’t so bad every now and then after all!

That is, as long as I don’t sleep too much and make it harder to sleep on Sunday night. The article also suggests not taking a nap after 3 p.m. for this reason too. To me, that’s prime nap time, but it makes sense. We can’t go overboard with extra sleep.

The article wraps up with probably the most interesting sleep tidbit of all: a “caff nap” or a “nappuccino” as some people like to call it. Basically, you can lie down for a power nap immediately after a cup of coffee (or perhaps any other caffeinated drink?). Assuming you fall asleep immediately, you can supposedly get about 20 minutes of sleep before the coffee starts to kick in.

Hmm… I’m not a coffee drinker, so someone else will have to let me know how that strategy works out.

All in all, it sounds like the goal is what we’ve always been told: get a decent night’s sleep. But it’s nice to know that it’s not too hard to make up for time lost. So the next time I end up having to burn the midnight oil, I’ll know what to do to get rested again.

Life is a bit more pleasant, after all, when we’re all not so sleep deprived.

If you’d like to read more, check out the original NPR article entitled “Nappuccinos to weekend Z’s: Strategize to catch up on lost sleep.”

Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer for Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at holly.taylor@r-cnews.com or by phone at 252-332-7206.