A recent study conducted by William Anthony, a Ph. D. at Boston University has shown that napping can increase productivity, sharpness, senses, and "lift the spirit." His study, rather than test the benefits of sleep, tested the virtues of a short nap.
Other sleep related studies have shown that getting a bad nights sleep, or having irregular sleeping patterns can, among other things, stress the body and mind, and have negative effects on the body's metabolism. In fact, sleep deprivation can lead to diabetes-like conditions, that hinders the body's ability to process carbohydrates.
A common question put to the effectiveness of napping is: "does a nap compensate for lost sleep?" The answer, according to a study conducted at Henry Ford Hospital's Sleep Disorders and Research Center in Detroit, is yes. According to the study, an individual who has normal sleep patterns, but has simply gotten insufficient sleep can become refreshed by taking a short nap. So, it can then be said that "sleep time" is cumulative.
Another study done to test the effectiveness of napping took a group of individuals that regularly received eight hours of sleep, and compared them to a group of people that received less than that, but took a nap during the day. Overall, the alertness of both groups was about the same, which is another piece of evidence in favor of the idea that sleep is cumulative. Yet another study, conducted by NASA, had individuals take two to four hour naps before they had to stay up for an extended period of time. The results showed that those who napped were able to stay awake longer, as if they were protected from sleepiness.
Napping is, based on this information, very useful to shift workers, students, and anyone doing long-haul work (truckers, pilots). However, despite the benefits, napping is not for everyone. Anyone who has insomnia or depression should avoid naps, as they may prove to be harmful, by increasing depressive symptoms.
Tips for napping:
When and if you decide to take a nap, be sure that you do not take one before you go to bed, or, if you do, do not sleep for more than 90 minutes. If you go against these simple rules, you may throw off your body's internal clock, and make yourself sleepier, in the long run. Also, if you are interested in learning more about the specifics of napping, then you may enjoy William Anthony's book, "The Art of Napping." In his book, he describes the importance of napping, and provides instructions on how nap in less than inviting situations.
For more information on napping, visit William Anthony's website at: