Every night you should sleep 7 to 8 hours. At least. If we sleep less it is easy to feel the consequences the next day: tiredness, irritability, bad mood, difficulty concentrating, increased hunger. These are just some of the main annoyances related to the lack of the right night’s rest. However, it can happen that everyone gets little or no sleep and wakes up tired or not rested. Even if you have gone to bed early and the alarm clock is sounding at the usual time. Do you recover from your “lost” sleep by sleeping a little longer the following night or by taking a nap? We asked Dr. Lara Fratticci, neurologist at Humanitas.
Does the afternoon nap always help?
Many people try to make up for lost sleep during the night with a nap in the middle of the afternoon. But is it really restful? “First of all, we need to distinguish between those who are temporarily in debt to sleep, because they may have spent an awake night or slept poorly or not at all, and those who live in chronic sleep deprivation – said the doctor -. In this regard, a study by the Medical Center in Boston, conducted by Dr. Daniel Cohen, compared some people awake for 24 hours in a row to others who had slept for three weeks about five hours a night, and therefore little. Those who had been awake for 24 hours recovered with a ten-hour sleep, while for the others the recovery was much more difficult. It follows that the more the debt of sleep is chronic, the more the recovery is difficult”.
On half-day sleep, as long as it is one-off, the specialist’s verdict is still favourable. The nap can also be effective, especially in the afternoon: “It is good, however, that it is not a habit, but that we allow it in the moment of need – recommended the specialist -. To be truly restorative must last from half an hour to a maximum of one hour, so as to reach the REM phase and thus allow the recovery of energy.
The benefits of a good rest
“Although the number is indicative and may be a little lower or higher for some individuals, the night time rest should last 7-8 hours. Sleeping less, but also sleeping more, has negative repercussions on your wellbeing and health,” the doctor points out. Sleeping well helps memory, concentration and attention. But it also reduces cholesterol and the risk of cerebrovascular disease and helps to eat properly, counteracting overweight. Leptin (a small protein hormone) in fact follows the circadian rhythm and increases during the night, giving a sense of satiety and preventing attacks of hunger at night. That’s why sleeping well contrasts diabetes, while sleeping poorly increases the stress hormone, cholesterol and sugar and facilitates the development of insulin-resistance. As confirmed by the famous phrase of “beauty sleep”, sleeping enough during the night is also good for the skin: the hormone cortisol makes it more elastic, affecting collagen and elastin.