What increases alertness, boosts creativity, reduces stress, improves perception, raises stamina, sharpens motor skills, increases accuracy, enhances your sex life, helps you make better decisions, reduces the risk of heart attack and improves both your memory and your mood? Chocolate? Perhaps…but it is the powerful little daytime nap that does all this for free…with no calories.
According to her book, “Take a Nap! Change your Life” Dr. Sara Mednick seems to liken napping to a miracle drug, sans negative side effects. Being a napper myself, I’ve long realized the benefits of a good solid daytime snooze. Unfortunately napping is not well taken in many a place of work…yet.
Remember that it wasn’t long ago that working from home, or telecommuting, wasn’t commonly endorsed either.
Benefits of Napping:
- Less stress – a short power nap can leave you feeling refreshed, renewed and more focused.
- Increased alertness and productivity – once rested after a mid-afternoon nap, your mood, efficiency, and alertness will improve greatly.
- Improved memory and learning – daytime dozing enhances a person’s ability to learn certain tasks and increases recall ability.
- Good for the heart – in one study, those who took a 30 min siesta at least 3 times a week had a 37% lower risk of heart-related death.
- Increased cognitive functioning – NASA researchers recently showed that a 30 minute power nap increased cognitive functioning by 40%.
- Creativity boost – power napping allows your brain to create the loose associations necessary for creative insight and opens the way for a fresh burst of new ideas.
- Better health – napping benefits heart functioning, hormonal maintenance and cell repair.
Allowing a quick nap during scheduled breaks at the workplace can bring about all of these benefits, all of which increases people’s efficiency. In turn this adds to the company’s bottom line, unlike traditional break-time activities such as smoking and drinking coffee that do nothing to improve well-being.
Getting the Perfect Nap:
- Attitude check: Recognize that you’re not lazy; napping will make you more productive and alert after you wake up. I usually feel a bit foggy for about the first 10 minutes afterwards – then I’m soaring.
- Nap in the morning or just after lunch. If too late in the afternoon you may feel quite groggy afterwards.
- Find a dark, quiet place where you won’t be disturbed by phones or others.
- A restful restorative nap can be as little as a few minutes to 30 minutes. For myself, that magic number is 20.
- If you have trouble relaxing, try an audio app like pzziz energizer. I have this on my smartphone and it puts me out like a light within moments and gently wakes me at whatever time I program it for.
Contrary to popular opinion, napping isn’t for the lazy, depressed or otherwise deranged. Famous nappers have included Bill Clinton, Lance Armstrong, Leonardo da Vinci, Eleanor Roosevelt and Thomas Edison. The moral of the story: To kick up your productivity, just rest your head.
I’m not much of a napper and it certainly is frowned upon at my workplace so I do something else. At coffee break I walk up a few flights of stairs. Getting away from the desk with a bit of activity really seems to perk me up. I’ll even go to the washroom on a different floor just to use the stairs. When climbing your mind can wander and sometimes you come up with ideas or solve a knarly problem. And as a bonus you get a bit of excercise too!
Hi Ekke, yes, unfortunately catching a quick nap at work is not yet accepted in a number of workplaces inspite of the productivity benefits…and as you say, it’s not for everyone. I appreciate your idea of getting away from the desk now and again as a way to re-energize the creative juices…it’s something I do myself and I too find it often helps to freshen my perspective when I’m at a mental sticking point.