If you can think of anything better than curling up on the couch, closing your eyes, and drifting off to sleep for half-an-hour, we’d like to hear it. Naps are delightful. Plus, they reduce fatigue, can increase alertness, improve your mood, boost the immune system and even strengthen memory, performance, and lead to fewer mistakes. So why aren’t you taking one now? Oh, right. You’re an adult and all daylight hours are spent in an office, while evening hours are dedicated to family and non-work-related tasks. Granted, adult nap time is difficult to execute during the week (unless you have a very understanding boss with a couch in his/her office), but here five reasons why you should make taking one a priority:
The average adult does not get enough sleep.
You don’t need a doctor to remind you that fewer than eight hours a night can lead to sleep deprivation. Nearly 40% of Americans get less than seven hours of sleep a night, according to UC San Diego sleep scientist Sara Mednick. Lack of sleep leaves you feeling exhausted and it also increases your risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, and obesity.
Skip the caffeine: a 10-30 minute nap is all you need to boost your afternoon.
Taking a quick 10-minute nap can immediately improve your mood and alertness. In fact, a quick nap has actually been proven more effective than a cup of coffee when it comes to increasing energy levels. Sleeping for 30 minutes or less during the afternoon will “promote wakefulness, and enhances performance and learning ability,” according to a sleep study performed at the Harry S. Truman V.A. Hospital in Columbia, Missouri.
One of the best side effects of a quick nap is a complete lack of grogginess. Sadly, the longer a nap lasts, the more likely you’ll experience that sleepy and confused feeling when you wake. Secondly, 10-30 minute naps won’t interfere with your nighttime sleep because they’re so brief. If you’re looking to boost memory and improve your energy, getting some brief shut-eye during the afternoon is the best solution.
Naps are natural and (somehow) most Americans take one.
Humans are naturally polyphasic sleepers – we’re designed to sleep in spurts, not long stretches, according to some experts. Sadly, society has partitioned our sleep into two segments, and slowly we’ve turned into monophasic mammals who only sleep during one portion of the day. But naps are innate to our species, and giving your body the chance to restore itself is extremely beneficial in the long run. For one, the brain needs rest to process the day’s memories, and studies have shown that a 90-minute nap can help solidify long-term memory. You won’t be alone: one-third of Americans nap each day, according to a 2009 survey by the Pew Research Center.
People lucky enough to get a good night’s sleep and take a nap have the ability to learn twice as much compared to those who only sleep at night, according to Mednick. This explains why getting enough sleep is vital to anyone earning a college or advanced degree.
When and how you should take a nap:
To prevent a nap from interfering with your evening sleep, the Mayo Clinic recommends napping between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. The best place to take a nap is in a quiet, dark place with a comfortable temperature that presents the fewest distractions. If you have an office with a door, turn off the lights, lock the door, and take a 20-minute snooze during your afternoon break.
If closing your office door isn’t an option, try turning your office into a “nap-friendly environment.” It’s not unusual to see people sleeping under their desks or behind a room-divider at Workman Publishing in New York City. The company has been encouraging naps during the workday since 2007, and Editor-in-Chief Susan Bolotin even distributed sleeping masks to her employees when Workman turned “pro-nap.”
More companies are embracing the nap.
In addition to Workman, other companies are slowly starting to realize the benefits of napping, especially when exhausted workers have cost businesses as much as $150 billion a year in lost productivity. And working from home has actually been proven to increase productivity because more people are finally getting the sleep they need to enhance their performance. More and more businesses are starting to incorporate napping spaces into their offices, encouraging the cat-nap. Nike employees have access to “quiet rooms” that may be used for naps and mediation. Google even has sleeping pods scattered around its Mountain View, California, campus specifically for employee naps.