Using relaxation techniques to improve sleep during naps.

Insufficient sleep is a common occurrence in occupational settings (e.g. doctors, drivers, soldiers). The resulting sleep debt can lead to daytime sleepiness, fatigue, mood disorder, and cognitive deficits as well as altered vascular, immune and inflammatory responses. Short daytime naps have been shown to be effective at counteracting negative outcomes related to sleep debt with positive effects on daytime sleepiness and performance after a normal or restricted night of sleep in laboratory settings. However, the environmental settings in the workplace and the emotional state of workers are generally not conducive to beneficial effects. Here, we tested whether relaxation techniques (RT) involving hypnosis might increase total sleep time (TST) and/or deepen sleep. In this study, eleven volunteers (aged 37-52) took six early-afternoon naps (30 minutes) in their occupational workplace, under two different conditions: control 'Naps' or 'Naps + RT' with a within-subjects design. Our results demonstrate that adding RT to naps changes sleep architecture, with a significant increase in the TST, mostly due to N2 sleep stage (and N3, to a lesser extent). Therefore, the deepening of short naps with RT involving hypnosis might be a successful non-pharmacological way to extend sleep duration and to deepen sleep in occupational settings.

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