Short naps: Best way to stay ahead of sleep deficits

WASHINGTON – Sleep deprivation can increase stress and make people overly emotional and less focused. But the best way to stay ahead of sleep deficits may be to take short naps.

Napping regularly at the same time of day for no longer than 25 minutes is among the best sleep strategies to prevent deprivation, a sleep expert tells The Wall Street Journal.

With a regular nap, sleep expert Dr. Christopher Christopher Winter says the body slows down and but doesn’t fall into deep sleep. It then works more efficiently.

Winter says it’s acceptable to “catch up” on lost sleep on the weekend. While that works in the short term for sleep deprivation, it’s not known how effective it is in the long run.

For those who know they’ll have a long night ahead, a good strategy could be to bank additional hours of rest for a few nights before the anticipated long night.

But changing sleep habits from weekday to weekend can be confusing and disruptive to a person’s biological clock. Experts call the change — where you wouldn’t normally stay up until midnight and then sleep until noon to recover — “social jet lag.”

Studies show obesity is one potential side effect of dramatically altering sleep schedules on off-days versus work-days.

A professor at the Institute of Medical Psychology at the University of Munich tells WebMD the risk of being overweight or obese rises about 33 percent for every hour of social jet lag a person experiences on weekends.

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