Sleep is the state when our bodies are given an opportunity to relax, refresh and restore. Most people nowadays work during daylight hours and sleep during the nightfall. However, it wasn’t always that way for human beings, and for some it still isn’t.
In some cultures, sleeping during the daytime is encouraged, with a long nap during the day and a shorter sleep time at night. Research suggests that taking a nap during the day can be a very healthy habit to form, if you are able. Just a 20-minute nap in the afternoon can reduce stress levels and restore energy. The revitalizing effects of a nap are most effective for either a short 20-minute nap or a longer 2-hour nap.
Once we sleep past 30 minutes or so or bodies enter a cycle of deeper sleep that if cut short or interrupted can lead to a sluggish half-awake feeling that lasts for hours. This cycle is usually complete within one and a half hours, however, sleeping two hours should ensure you have time to go through the cycle and come out of refreshed.
For night-time sleeping, keep in mind that every body is different and has different needs at different times. You may go through a period of several days where you require more sleep than usual, try to recognize when this happens and allow yourself the extra sleep.
In general, it is not recommended to sleep much more than 10 hours straight on a regular basis. If you are always sleeping for 10 hours or more, this can indicate health problems including poor circulation, blood-sugar imbalance, serotonin imbalance, and depression.
Sleeping for too long is often a sign that in your waking hours you are not taking the necessary time to care for yourself and your body. Try taking hot baths daily and going on 30 minute walks twice a day. Remove toxic foods from your diet and eat lots cleansing, purifying whole foods like nuts, fruit and vegetables.
Most “healthy” people sleep around 8 hours each night. You can learn what your healthy sleep cycle is by allowing yourself 1 – 2 weeks free from other obligations (this might mean taking off from work) where you allow yourself to sleep as much or as little as you want, when you want, without any schedule restrictions.
This may not be realistic for a lot of us, but any way you can become more aware of your body’s natural needs for sleep, the better. You might try keeping a sleep journal for a few weeks in which you monitor when you go to sleep at night, when you wake up in the morning, and when you take naps.
Note how refreshed you feel or note if you wake up feeling groggy. The sleep journal is a good idea as well because you can use it to help you identify environmental and dietary factors that may affect your sleep in good, or not so good, ways.