Wake up, America!

Wake up, America!
by Jennifer Leese
Staff Writer

Do you take naps? According to a national survey by the Pew Research Center Social & Demographic Trends survey of a nationally representative sample of 1,488 adults, one in three adults admit that on any typical day they take a nap. The number was higher in a portion of self-proclaimed nappers who say that they had trouble sleeping the night before and for those who had exercised within 24 hours. Those having trouble sleeping were more generally women, and people who make less than $20,000 a year and those who, regardless of their income, were dissatisfied with their personal financial situation.
In another breakdown, the higher amount was among people who are poorer, black, men older than 50, men and women over 80 and among people who are not happy. The Center also found that people who were unemployed were more likely to nap during the week than on weekends that that those with jobs were only slightly more likely to nap on weekends.
In all, many people, and experts, approve the benefits of a power snooze. Declaring nappers include Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison and Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. I say, if it works - do it!
Mammals that divide their day between two distinct periods - sleep and wakefulness - are in the minority, according to the National Sleep Foundation. "While naps do not necessarily make up for inadequate or poor quality nighttime sleep, a short nap of 20-30 minutes can help to improve mood, alertness and performance." (SleepFoundation.org)
"50, men and women are about equally likely to say they napped in the past day (35% vs. 34%).
"There are distinctive racial patterns to napping. Half of the black adults in our survey say they napped in the past 24 hours, compared with just a third of whites and Hispanics.
"Napping is quite common at the lower end of the income scale; some 42% of adults with an annual income below $30,000 report they napped in the past day. As income rises, napping declines. However, at the upper end of the scale (adults whose annual income is $100,000 or above) the tendency to nap revives and reverts to the mean.
"Napping spikes among the old -- but only among the very old. More than half of adults ages 80 and older say they napped in the past day. Among every other age group in the survey -- including both the young (ages 18 to 29) and the old (ages 70 to 79) -- about a third say they napped in the past 24 hours.
These findings are based on responses to a question in a wide-ranging survey about aging that asked people if they had engaged in each of 10 different activities in the past 24 hours -- among them driving a car, getting some exercise, going shopping, watching television, using the internet, praying and taking a nap." (Pew Research Center Social & Demographic Trends survey)
As stated earlier, the majority of the nappers taking the survey admitted that they had trouble sleeping (46%) and/or had exercised in the past 24 hours (37%). Are they happy? Well the according to the Pew Research Center Social & Demographic Trends survey, "people who aren't happy are more likely to nap on a given day than are people who are very happy (43% vs. 31%)".
When it comes to health, the same patterns apply to people of all ages who report that they are in poor health. Older adults who are experiencing problems associated with aging -- including an inability to live independently -- are more likely than other older adults to say that they had trouble sleeping and that they took a nap in the past 24 hours.
Now some of you may agree or "understand" why those who are less well off have trouble sleeping at night. But do those who are financially stable sleep better at night? Pew's research survey gets mixed results. "There's no statistically significant difference in "trouble sleeping" between those adults in our survey whose annual income is $100,000 and above and those who live on $30,000 to under $100,000 a year." Although, having very little money is associated with restless nights. Thirty-five percent of those whose annual income is below $20,000 admit to having trouble sleeping, compared to 22% of those who earn $100,000 or more.
However, no matter what your annual income level, if you are dissatisfied with your financial situation, you're twice as likely to report having had trouble sleeping.
The National Sleep Foundation offers you these tips:
* A short nap is usually recommended (20-30 minutes) for short-term alertness. This type of nap provides significant benefit for improved alertness and performance without leaving you feeling groggy or interfering with nighttime sleep.
* Your surroundings can greatly impact your ability to fall asleep. Make sure that you have a restful place to lie down and that the temperature in the room is comfortable. Try to limit the amount of noise heard and the extent of the light filtering in. While some studies have shown that just spending time in bed can be beneficial, it is better to try to catch some zzz's.
* If you take a nap too late in the day, it might affect your nighttime sleep patterns and make it difficult to fall asleep at your regular bedtime. If you try to take it too early in the day, your body may not be ready for more sleep.
Confused? Don't be. Whether you take a nap or not, it solely depends on your situation and lifestyle. Now, are naps beneficial? Well, research states that taking a short snooze during the day can restore alertness, enhance performance, and reduce mistakes and accidents. A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness 100%.
"Napping has psychological benefits. A nap can be a pleasant luxury, a mini-vacation. It can provide an easy way to get some relaxation and rejuvenation.
Most people are aware that driving while sleepy is extremely dangerous. Still, many drivers press on when they feel drowsy in spite of the risks, putting themselves and others in harm's way. While getting a full night's sleep before driving is the ideal, taking a short nap before driving can reduce a person's risk of having a drowsy driving crash. Sleep experts also recommend that if you feel drowsy when driving, you should immediately pull over to a rest area, drink a caffeinated beverage and take a 20-minute nap." (The National Sleep Foundation)
"In spite of these benefits, napping isn't always the best option for everyone. For example, some people have trouble sleeping any place other than their own bed, making a nap at the office or anywhere else unlikely. Other people simply have trouble sleeping in the daytime; it could be that certain individuals are more sensitive to the midday dip than others - those who are may feel sleepier and have an easier time napping. Here are some other negative effects:
* Naps can leave people with sleep inertia, especially when they last more than 10-20 minutes. Sleep inertia is defined as the feeling of grogginess and disorientation that can come with awakening from a deep sleep. While this state usually only lasts for a few minutes to a half-hour, it can be detrimental to those who must perform immediately after waking from a napping period. Post-nap impairment and disorientation is more severe, and can last longer, in people who are sleep deprived or nap for longer periods.
* Napping can also have a negative effect on other sleeping periods. A long nap or a nap taken too late in the day may adversely affect the length and quality of nighttime sleep. If you have trouble sleeping at night, a nap will only amplify problems.
* One study has indicated that napping is associated with increased risk of heart failure in people already at risk."
Survey results shown that there's no difference between those who are married and unmarried, or between adults who have children at home and those who don't. Also, it makes no difference if you live in the east, west, north or south. Or whether you live in a city, a suburb or a rural area. About a third of all these groups nap daily.
While reading this you may have closed your eyes for a brief second or so, or maybe you're trying to come up with a way to incorporate a nap into your daily routine. The National Sleep Foundation wants you to remember "that getting enough sleep on regular basis is the best way to stay alert and feel your best. But when fatigue sets in, a quick nap can do wonders for your mental and physical stamina."

Resources: National Sleep Foundation (SleepFoundation.org), Social and Demographic Trends (pewsocialtrends.org), Pew Research Center Social & Demographic Trends survey