Do you often find yourself on the go, wishing you had a pause button? Does the afternoon bring with it a lull in energy and a struggle to keep up with the hustle and bustle?
Our culture is notorious for trying to do too much and sleep too little. For most of us, that means living in a constant state of sleep deprivation, continuing to rack up sleep debt.
Making power naps a part of your regular routine can combat fatigue and help you stay on top of things at work and at home. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “While naps do not necessarily make up for inadequate or poor quality nighttime sleep, a short nap of 20-30 minutes can help to improve mood, alertness and performance.” And don’t be fooled into thinking a quick cup of joe will do the trick. While a dose of caffeine might boost energy temporarily, it also decreases memory performance. So, you will be energized but are likely to make more mistakes.
While it can be difficult to make napping part of your daily routine, here are just a few reasons why it would be highly beneficial to find a way to catch a mid-day snooze.
- Improved alertness and productivity While there is a stigma towards napping as being lazy, it is misplaced. Napping actually increases productivity! In fact, a study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness 100%. Just a 20-minute snooze can greatly improve your ability to get stuff done. Go ahead and file that away for the next time your boss catches you catching some zzz’s at work.
- Improved memory This is great news for students. One recent study found that students who napped after studying retained more information they had just studied, as compared to students who did not nap.
- Psychological benefits Chronic sleep deprivation can cause serious physical and psychological issues. Regular naps cannot make up for sleep deprivation, but they can minimize the side effects, including depression, anxiety, stress and cognitive impairment.
- Health Benefits Just as a lack of sleep can have a negative impact on your physical well being, getting a little extra sleep can have a positive impact. An afternoon power nap can lower blood pressure, calm your nerves, enhance creativity, boost willpower and even help you sleep better at night.
If a nap is truly not an option, do not despair. Maybe you have trouble falling asleep or your workplace is not conducive to sleeping. Simply stepping away from your normal routine to meditate or sit quietly can make a world of difference. Breathing exercises at your desk can help calm your brain and have restorative effects.
And on that note, it’s time for us to go catch some zzz’s. Happy napping!