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New research shows that 40 winks during the day can make us sharper, healthier-even happier

get a normal amount of sleep have quicker
reaction times and make one-third few-
er mistakes in afternoon tests when they
nap than when they don't
Naps also significantly improve our
moods (and so, presumably, benefit our
relationships). The psychologist John M
Taub of St. Louis and other researchers
have found that, after napping, people
not only have better memories but also
feel more cheerful than without a nap
How long need a nap be? It vanes,
but "catnaps" of five or 10 minutes don't

help much. In experiments, sleep-de-
prived people who were allowed only to
catnap performed about as poorly on tests
as if they hadn't napped7at all
When is it best to nap Not when you
feel the need most strongly. "Prophylactic
napping," as the psychiatrist Martin Orne
NLIKE MOST OF THE of the University of Pennsylvania and
people I know, I workpt Institute of Pennsylvania Hospital calls
home and can take map it. does more to restore alertness. Says
whenever I want tovsSo Ome: "A nap taken before you're very
why don't 1, even tired will prevent fatigue "
suffering an aftei' Napping and health. Sleep is neces-
drowsy fit? Becaitte» . sary forphysical and mental health. And
most other Amenciu& whatever promotes health promotes
I've been brainwashed. longer life. Does that include napping?
"Our society looks down on Consider Health statisticians say that
says Dr David Dmges of the I "coronary heart disease is less common
of Pennsylvania Hospital and in siesta countries than in northern Europe
versity of Pennsylvania, a psycbbniiitf and Norm America.
and sleep researcher who spec • Of course, there are other reasons for
the study of napping. "We itnat the slower-paced life in siesta coun-
as money and see napping en jtries, the less-fatty diet and so on. But
wasteful and self-indulgent or as i one study by the University of Athens
of a mental or physical defect. Medical School points clearly to the
But Dr. Dmges and scientists at si health benefits of naps It looked only at
research centers have found that Greeks, half of whom nap, half of whom
ping is not only healthful and beneficial don't Researchers compared men hos-
but also, for many people, can make the pitalized for coronary heart disease with
difference between vigor and lethargy, men hospitalized for other reasons and
success and failure—even life and death. concluded that Greek men who nap half
This is a report on their findings. an hour or more every day are 30 per-
The cost* of noraapftfaii. Many Med- ^Jw9U ^^Ha» W WWaJ ^^V^Q^V^V^^^WB B^^iT HV^M|a^VlW Vfl^V^W |^^Vh^V cent less likely to develop » oxMtar con-
iterranean and tropical peoples observe dition than those who don't nap.
the siesta, an afternoon break during The haanta of nappfe*. Most peo-
which most adults nap. We Americans
scorn the custom and interrupt our work-
the noni^iMHM you're not sleepy Better yet, pte are groggy upon waking; researchers
call this "steep inertia." So it's danger-
day only for lunch. Yet many of us are ous to nap if you have to wake suddenly
half-stupefied with drowsiness by mid- and immediately take control of com-
aftemoon—a peak time of day for such plex machinery or technical operations.
human-performance errors as mistakes And if you feel drowsy at the wheel and
in instrument-reading, failures by tram middle-aged, it's the young who are the us. Brain-wave tests and other studies pull over for a nap, wait IS minutes after
engineers to notice warning signals, cler- real nappen: 53 percent of college stu- show that human beings have an inher- waking before resuming your drive.
ical errors and, worst of all, steep-related dents nap regularly, according to a sur- ent tendency to sleep twice a day—an Naps also reduce the need for deep
auto accidents. (Some experts speculate vey by Dr. Dinges, because their ached* urgent need to steep for many hours at steep ami may make it harder for peopte
that nodding off is second only to alco- utes perm* it.and because they don't sleep nighttime and a less-urgent need to steep with steep problems to fall asleep or stay
hol as a came of highway accidents.) enough at night. briefly in nudaftemoon asleep at night. (People who have to nap
Who takes naps? Experts estimate Most nappers are neiincr lazy, ailing Thai s why even people who get a nor- frequently to stay alert may have a sen-
dut about a third of Americans do nap nor senik. Three-quarters nap because mal amount of steep at night are slower ous steep disorder, such as narcolepsy;
at least once a week—-though most of shift-work jobs, study schedules or babies and less accuiaie at then* work in mid- they should consult a doctor.)
them keep quiet about it. But who they allow them too little regular steep. Most afternoon man at other times of the day. Now all I need to know is how to make
are contradicts our bias: Most nappen of the others nap because they just like Napping could fix that. Roger Godbout myself nap. Usually, I have only to lie
aren't persons who have trouble sleep- lo, but there's no evidence that they're Jacques Momptamr, steep researcl down and close my eyes to be hopelessly
ing soundly at night. And though the more stothful own the rest of us. en at the HopitaJ du Sacrt-Coeur in wideawake Whoever brainwashed me
elderly are more likely to nap than the Wk» ought to take MHH? Most of Montreal, found that healthy people who did a good job of it H