By Dr Fiona Kerr Founder/CEO The Neurotech Institute

Humans are bi-phasic. Two sleep-connected body cycles (circadian rhythm and homeostatic curve) align in the middle of the day for our second sleep, so don’t reach for the coffee or chocolate, reach for a pillow. Even with 8 hours sleep a night, a twenty-minute nap has many advantages – it refreshes brain and body, clears our mental inbox, rests our visual cortex, lifts our mood, and increases physical dexterity, attention and reaction time for up to 3 hours. If you sleep for a full REM cycle during the day (at least an hour) the huge benefits include improvements in creativity, executive function, working memory, perception, stamina, mood, motor skills, logic, and decreased stress response.

A nap assists our immune system, important for poor sleepers as sleep deprivation increases levels of inflammation in the body. Naps decrease levels of Interleukin-6 (inflammation marker) and helps the immune and neuroendocrine systems recover from sleep loss. They also assist with pain response, important because the pain threshold of people experiencing sleep deprivation falls up to 15 percent after one night of insufficient rest. (If you wake from a nap feeling groggy (called sleep inertia) you have slept too long for a 20-minute power nap and your brain has altered blood flows for a full REM cycle (1-1.5 hours), so try for one or the other)

The good news for people with conditions that interrupt sleep cycles such as young onset Parkinson’s, is that our wonderful brain and body can adjust to the day sleep carrying out much of the work done during a night sleep. So think of sleep more in terms of a weekly than nightly quota, which can be made up of different sleep patterns during the day or week. Instead of feeling guilty, find your own sleep cycle(s). If you only sleep 4 hours a night, have a long sleep during the day, adjust your lifestyle and work accordingly, and have a conversation with the relevant people about the advantages for both them and you to work out what is best.


Other articles

  • NEWLY DIAGNOSED | 10 things to do after a Parkinson’s diagnosis

    A Parkinson's diagnosis can be something different to each person. It's confronting, or overwhelming, or empowering... However you react, here are 10 things you can do to start your journey to live well with Parkinson's. Educate yourself and those around you: Take the time to learn about Parkinson's, its symptoms, and how it may affect [...]

  • PROCEDURES | Biomarkers for Parkinson’s

    Currently there is not one test that will definitely say if you have Parkinson's or not. So we use a combination of biomarkers, or medical signs that can be objectively measured, to make a clinical diagnosis. The most common biomarkers currently used in Parkinson's research and clinical practice include: Alpha-synuclein: Alpha-synuclein (α-synuclein) is a protein [...]

  • NDIS | Community Connections & LACs

    It is important to connect to your local services, doctors, therapies and support groups as part of the NDIS process. Your Local Area Coordinator (LAC) can help link you to those that interest and are relevant to your situation. It is often hard for people living and working with young onset Parkinson's to do this, [...]