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Power Naps Boost Productivity!

Here is an essay on the power of the nap!

I pride myself on getting more done on a daily basis than your average bear. My secret? The Power nap! And a great list!

Recently, on Facebook, one of my friends commented that they didn’t see me as a napper. Probably because most people see me as a hyper whirlwind of activity. What they don’t see is that I have two speeds: Fast and stop!

I truly believe in the power of the nap! I have a comfy couch in my office and have been known to take my 20 minute power nap when the paperwork and activity list is out of control; and I just need a few minutes to focus. Works for me and makes me more productive.

For all you unbelievers out there here is a little science to back up the pro-napping stance!

While small children typically take naps in the afternoon, our culture generally frowns upon mid-day sleep; however, even in those who get enough sleep (but particularly in those who don’t), many people experience a natural increase in drowsiness in the afternoon, about 8 hours after waking. Why not take a little nap? Research shows that you can make yourself more alert reduce stress and improve cognitive functioning with a nap. Mid-day sleep, or a ‘power nap’, means more patience, less stress, better reaction time, increased learning, more efficiency and better health. Here’s what you need to know about the benefits of sleep and how a power nap can help you!

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

The body needs 7-8 hours of sleep per day; 6 hours or less triples your risk of a car accident. (Interestingly, too much sleep--more than 9 hours--can actually be harmful for your health; recent studies show that those who sleep more than 9 hours per day don’t live as long as their 8-hour-sleep counterparts!)

The Effects of Missed Sleep: Sleep is cumulative; if you lose sleep one day, you feel it the next. If you miss adequate sleep several days in a row, you build up a ‘sleep deficit’, which impairs all kinds of things:

  • Reaction time
  • Judgment 
  • Vision
  • Information processing
  • Short-term memory
  • Performance
  • Motivation
  • Patience

Fatigued people also experience more moodiness, aggressive behaviors, burnout and more stress. (If this sounds like you, you need a nap!)

The Benefit of a Power Nap: Studies show that 20 minutes of sleep in the afternoon provides more rest than 20 minutes more sleep in the morning (though the last two hours of morning sleep have special benefits of their own). The body seems to be designed for this, as most people’s bodies naturally become more tired in the afternoon, about 8 hours after we wake up.

How Long Should I Sleep?

Many experts advise to keep the nap between 15 and 30 minutes, as sleeping longer gets you into deeper stages of sleep, from which it’s more difficult to awaken. Also, longer naps can make it more difficult to fall asleep at night, especially if your sleep deficit is relatively small. If you only have 5 minutes to spare, just close your eyes; even a brief rest has the benefit of reducing stress and helping you relax a little, which can give you more energy to complete the tasks of your day.

Tips For a More Effective Nap:

If you want to obtain more sleep, and the health benefits that go with getting enough sleep, here are some tips for more effective napping and sleep at night:

Avoid too much caffeine after 3pm. It’s a stimulant that can disrupt your sleep and stay in your system longer than you think; its half-life is four to six hours!

If you don’t want to nap a long time, set an alarm!

If you don’t have time for a power nap, or don’t feel comfortable napping during the day, try yoga or meditation; it gives your body a rest and produces slower brain waves similar to sleep.

I praise the power of the nap! Try to incorporate a power nap in your day! You will thank me!