I was in the middle of my news bulletin at around 3.20 pm, struggling to concentrate, feeling super sleepy. My head was almost swinging in air, every now and then. I was visibly making an effort to stay awake during the ad-break while anchoring, with the whole crew watching. It was something that had happened earlier too but I could manage to camouflage it to look in control.
But this time it was different. It was pretty embarrassing because I have been known for my alertness and dedication towards my work and here I was itching to doze off. It made me ponder, was it the effect of something I had eaten or simply lack of sleep?
I badly needed a power nap. Being at work and napping, don’t quite go along well in India at least. It is actually looked down upon, deemed to be against work ethics. It can also sully your image at work.
Nap Is Creeping Into Work Culture
A growing number of companies at the global level are increasingly realising the importance of nap. Its time to take cue from international giants like Google which are redefining work culture, shifting focus on the needs of their employees. Google has provided very fancy hi- tech beds which have a provision of relaxing music too. Its not the only one, Nike is another brand which recognizes the need for sleeping space for employees. Not only does it offer option of sleep but also meditation at work.
From Portland to UK, US and several different parts of the world, there are more than a dozen brands which provide napping pods so that their employees can recharge their batteries.
Power Nap Can Be A Game Changer
But what is so special about this whole concept of taking naps. If it is called the power nap there is a reason behind it. Robert Stickgold, a Harvard sleep researcher, says napping makes people more effective problem solvers. His research group has shown that taking a nap seems to help people separate important information from extraneous detail.
Let’s figure out the reasons why afternoon naps can be game changers at work.
• Better Health: A short nap can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases by 34 %. This has been proven in research, published in the Harvard’s School of Public Health in the US along with the University of the Athens Medical School. The research examined 24000 people including men and women over a period of 6 years to arrive at this conclusion that power naps are good for heart.
• .Increase in alertness: It reduces the margin of errors at work in your day to day life. A nap recharges you to start your afresh with renewed vigour. It infuses a sense of freshness that aids alertness at work.
• Reduced stress: The level of physical and mental stress drops down as you go into the relaxation mode. Stress is the biggest reason behind most diseases. A power nap in the middle of the day releases stress by giving the much needed relaxation to the body.
• Heightened productivity: Performance at work improves with quicker reaction time. This has been tested by NASA in a research conducted on astronauts and pilots to determine the best sleep patterns for the maintenance of max performance. It resulted in the performance shooting up by 34% and vigilance by 54%.
How To Figure Out The Right Duration
• If you are looking to refresh yourself in the middle of your day and are conscious of not spending too much time in taking a power nap, then 20 minutes is enough.
• If you are sleeping any time longer than this then there is a serious chance of not getting the desired refreshment but you waking up groggy and disoriented. This is because you venture into deep sleep post 20 minutes which is called sleep intertia.
• Journal Sleep examined the benefits of naps of various lengths and no naps. The results showed that a 10-minute nap produced the most benefit in terms of reduced sleepiness and improved cognitive performance.
• It is better to sleep and get up before 3 pm in the noon or else it might impact your night sleeping pattern.
• Wakefulness at due time is equally important with power naps
If there are so many benefits of mid-day slumber I wonder often why is there so much stigtma attached to sleeping at work? Corporates in most cases do not realise the physical fatigue of their employees. These days commuting in heavy traffic takes a toll before an employee can start his/her day at work. No employee will go and ask for a sleeping station unless the company provides one on its own.
Mid-day sleep is not a luxury. Its part of our genetic build up. Research done by Dr Roger Broughton, University of Ottawa in 1975 argued that the afternoon naps are a natural part of the sleep cycle. People have a strong tendency to fall asleep in the afternoon, even after full night’s rest.
Geniuses Relied On Napping To Recharge
If you feel guilty with the idea of nap at work, take cue form history. A lot of great men and women relied on power naps to rejuvenate them mid way through the day. From Napolean who could nap at the drop of a hat to Winston Churchill who religiously slept in the noon post lunch to John. F. Kennedy, afternoon naps were an important part of their lifestyles. Edison too was famous for his naps. One of his associates said that Edison’s “genius for sleep equalled his genius for invention. He could go to sleep anywhere, anytime, on anything.” Indeed, he would often curl up for his naps on a workbench or in a closet.
For people like me who love getting up before the sun, I feel losing the zing by noon. Thanks to technology, we have the luxury of having alarm clocks to wake up. There was a time when creative genius Salvador Dali, the master of surrealism in Spain would use an innovative technique of holding an iron key in his hand, while slouching on his chair for napping. He would keep a plate upside down beneath his hand on the ground. Once he would doze off his hand would release the key which would produce a clanging sound on hitting the plate, waking him up. Dali in his infamous work “50 secrets of Magic Craftsmanship” wrote “the time between the release of the key and the clank of the plate is more than enough to throw yourself back at the canvas.”
Nap Vs Caffeine
Some people rely on caffeine to ward off mid-day dozing. But naps are more effective than caffeine in this category. Done in 2008, British researchers reported results of a study that compared getting more nighttime sleep, taking a nap, and using caffeine as ways to cope with the afternoon hump. The nap was the most effective between caffeine and more nighttime sleep. Napping also promoted learning on some memory tasks.
Power naps can be rejuvenating, it depends on how you take it. Switch it on to recharge and getting back to your chores. It will boost your batteries at work but if you fall in the temptation of sleeping too much it is not going to do much good. So figure out the right nap and keep taking care of yourself.
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