Napping v. Sleeping Question.

I know that a full night’s sleep is very different from a nap as far as REM and NREM waves go. But there is no doubt that napping is nice and often refreshing. Also, I’m a narcoleptic, so my REM waves are wacky anyway, and I wake up exhausted every morning no matter how long I’ve slept.

So here’s a question.

Let’s say Jimmy is tired when he gets home from work, and takes a nap from 6pm-8pm.

Jimmy wakes up at 8pm and stays awake from 8pm-12 midnight.

Jimmy then goes to sleep from 12am-6am.

Would this in any way resemble 8 solid hours’ worth of nighttime sleep in the average person? Like I said, I know sleep waves are different in short periods vs. long periods. But would the two-hour nap count at all towards the overall 8 hours’ sleep one needs every night? Or would it be more of a “catching up on sleep debt”, or just be a plain old nap with no real benefits?

I know I was told by a neurologist back when I had my sleep test years ago that narcoleptics get restful sleep often from short naps as opposed to long sleep periods. Would the results of the above example be different if Jimmy were a narcoleptic?

There is a type of sleep called polyphasic sleep where someone takes several short naps during the day, instead of one long rest at night (sleeping in one long strech is call monophasic sleep). The people who do this say you are just as rested, but you sleep much less. The trick, apparently, is that you immediatly fall into REM sleep; very little sleep time is wasted. Of course, the transition is very hard, and you have to have a lifestyle where you can take a short nap every few hours (in other words, be unemployed). It seems very interesting though, and if it were feesable I would like to try it.

Here are some links:

just google “polyphasic sleep” and you’ll find lots of info. I think Cecil did a column once too; I will look and post it if I can find it.

The scenario you describe is very similar to how I would sleep during high school. I would nap for about two-three hours in the after noon (more during the time that I had undiagnosed mono), and then be awake in the evening to do homework, eat dinner, etc. I’d go to sleep around midnight and get up at around five thirty. I was always tired and would fall asleep at school a lot.

My sleep schedule has been more standard this summer, and I find that 8-10 hours of straight sleep is much more refreshing than 8-10 hours of sleep in chunks.

I almost never sleep more than a couple of hours at a time. About once a week I’ll actually get six or eight hours in a single sleep but rarely more frequent than that. I think it’s a combination of habit and stress that brought me to this point. I used to get 4-5 hours of sleep every night when I was in college but then in grad school I was taking night courses and working three jobs. I taught school during the day. Went to school in the evening and was the night security officer at my apts. on weekends. I did construction on weekends to make extra money.
I got used to 4-5 hours sleep daily but the past year or so has dealt me some serious stress by means of a tragic accident.
(Lost my family and home all at the same time and my father died last month after a long bout with cancer)
So now sleep is just something I do every now and then.

Sorry, I don’t mean to ruin the thread but in response to the OP,
Can you get by on naps? Based on my past and present experience, I’d say sure.
Is it as beneficial? That’s a bit more subjective. I’d say it depends on what you do everyday.
BTW average sleep requirements for people ranges between 7-9 hours. So six hours of sleep is that much of a deprivation for a lot people.
Some people can get by on 6 hours just fine. IIRC older folks sleep less, probably has to do with required energy.

that should be isn’t… :rolleyes: maybe I need to get some sleep. ~heh

Thanks, folks… this is getting closer to answering my question. Jimbeam, I see what you’re saying. I know that the reason 7-9 hours of solid sleep is preferable for most people is that sleep waves change throughout the course of the 7-9 hours. You start off with short, shallow sleep waves and gradually move into long, deep sleep waves as the night goes on. A such, you receive the most restful sleep at something like 3/4 of the way through. Hence, one can only assume that with naps, the average person will not get the most restful sleep possible.

However, I was wondering, should a person take a two-hour nap a few hours before bedtime, if that would count as beneficial sleep at all, or if it just goes towards a person’s accumulated sleep debt, or if it even does that much.

The nap is beneficial in the fact that your body simply needs rest. Two hours might be too long. I find that 30-45 minute naps are fantastic. Then, whenever I do decide to go to bed I fall asleep faster and deeper. Why, because I’m already relaxed. My muscles are anyway…a lot of times I’d get in after a long hard day. Take a shower and catch a 30 minute nap and wake up fresh. Grab a bite to eat and be good to go for several hours. Then I’d crash out for 2-3 maybe (even 4 hours at the most) and be ready to hit it hard again the next day.

A nap at lunch…30-45 minutes. another one in the afternoon 30-45 min. 2-3 hours of good sleep at night and (one long sleep a full 8 hours maybe once a week) That’s usually good for me.

Yes, a nap of 20min to 40 min in the afternoon is a very good idea. More than an hour is too long for a nap- you’ll wake up feeling groggy. You normally need 4 hours of solid sleep when you do get to sleep.

But a short nap in the afternoon can help a lot. YMMV.

I think that the lack of solid sleep at night is what makes you consider a nap in the first place. I never used to want a nap until I got into working these crazy hours with no real schedule to speak of.
Now that I need the naps I can’t get a full nights sleep. My body wakes up after three or four hours of sleep and it’s turned into a never ending circle. But hey! Apparently it works just enough to get by.

Well, I don’t know about that. In my case, I was working from daylight to dark everyday, construction, concrete, roofing, landscape etc. Then coming home and working around the house. New place w/ lots of stuff to do. Finally call it day outside and then shower catch a nap eat and get onto things needed in the house, shop, or greenhouse until my wife called me in or woke up and called me down. Usually around 2am. get about 3 hours sack time and start over. I don’t eat breakfast. Take lunch about 2 pm eat (maybe) sack out for a little while, back to work…all this and tutor the kids, cook, clean, pay bills, etc. Take off once a week to take daughter to Dallas…she had a congenital disease so we always had lots of Drs. bills. (ie:work, work, work, etc get the picture. )

I used to teach but couldn’t support the family on teachers pay. :frowning: damned shame huh?