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Naps: The Timeless and Economical Solution to Stress, Tension and Fatigue.

Sleep_in_ruins by Lipedia

Feeling tired or chronically fatigued is a common complaint among many Americans. Many of these people can share similar causes to fatigue such as hectic work and personal schedules, being overworked, having financial constraints and lack of personal time. Of course there are many more things that can cause fatigue such anemia, depression, or even the flu. But this article is going to focus on one specific cause of fatigue: Lifestyle.

Our increasingly modern and sedentary lifestyle is pulling us further and further away from the naturally active lifestyle that our bodies were designed for, and one of the many symptoms of this separation is fatigue. Most people today offset this fatigue and lethargy with drugs such as sugar and caffeine, or both. Yes, sugar, or sucrose, is a drug. Our body has an intense and immediate response to sugar.

Because sugar can enter the bloodstream so quickly, it immediately effects our brains chemistry, triggering our reward sensors, and it can even have a similar affect on our brain as heroin. This can lead sugar to becoming a quietly addictive chemical, used not only to combat fatigue during the lulls of the day, but also to satisfy a chemical addiction and trigger reward sensors in our brain when we’re feeling low. Be careful of your sugar intake, it has an extremely harmful effect on your body when used in more the a moderate amount. Sugar can cause diabetes, tooth decay, as well as greatly increase the bodies acidity and cause inflammation, which promotes arthritis, Alzheimer’s and cancer.

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Caffeine is another drug that people use to combat fatigue. People frequently combat their daily fatigue and lack of energy with coffee, and most likely with sugar as well. Coffee in the morning to get going, coffee in the middle of the day to keep going. Another silent chemical dependency that has slipped into many Americans lives, coffee has a slew of negative effects on your health including affecting blood sugar level, increasing your bodies acidity, affecting brain chemistry/hormonal levels, and adversely affecting cardiovascular health as well as your teeth. In the long run it doesn’t sound like a smart move to use either sugar or coffee to fight fatigue, so what should we do to feel more rested? What is the replacement to these modern prescriptions for fatigue?

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The long lost art of the Nap is here to save the day. Power naps of fewer than 30 minutes, even those as brief as 6 minutes, can restore and increase performance and learning. A 30 minute power nap has been proven to restore a person from the negative hormonal effects of a sleep deprived night. Anymore than a half hour and you’ll start to enter a deeper sleep cycle, and if you wake up without finishing this cycle you will feel more tired and fatigued. When ever I wake up from a power nap I always feel like more time passed than just however long I set my timer for. I have noticed that if I take too long of a power nap towards the end of the day than I can’t sleep at night. If it’s later in the day, set the timer no more than 10 or 15 minutes. You’d be surprised how much such a short break can rejuvenate you.

In Japan, they have taken the power nap to another level. In Japan they practice Inemuri, or “sleeping while present”. In a culture where dedication and hard work is synonymous with honor and duty, it has become a source of pride and respect to sleep upright for short periods of time. This is a sort of demonstration that the person practicing Inemuri is so hard working that they don’t have enough time for sleep.

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While taking power naps or Inemuri’s may help combat the harmful effects of sleep deprivation, continually living this way may have harmful long term effects. So many people have died form over work and stress that there is a term for them, Karoshi, or “death from over working”. Even a power nap cannot defeat chronically being overworked and sleep deprived. Instead of relying on caffeine, sugar, power naps or whatever you use to help combat fatigue, try to make a good night’s sleep your regular solution.