It’s mid-afternoon, and your eyelids are starting to droop, but you’ve still got a good three hours before the end of your workday. As much as you want to give your employer 100 percent for a full eight hours, mental and physical fatigue can get in the way. But, there’s a simple solution that’s been used to help humans get through a long day for centuries – a nap. A growing body of research suggests that naps aren’t just for children.
Nap for Alertness
Whether you work the day, swing, or night shift a quick nap can help you stay more alert while on the job. A study conductedamong air traffic controllers on the night shift found that a nap mid-shift let to quicker reaction times, better alertness, and fewer signs of sleepiness. While participants didn’t enter the most restorative stage of sleep, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, they still reaped benefits from a nap.
Nap for Improved Memory and Creativity
Naps not only keep you more alert, but they can also enhance your ability to learn and think creatively. A team of researchers explored the relationship between sleep and memory consolidation, which is essential for learning. Participants answered a series of questions first thing in the morning and then again later in the day. Those participants who did not have a nap showed a predictable deterioration in their answers. Participants who napped used information from the previous test to answer more creatively, with greater accuracy, and increased mental flexibility in their thinking. It was estimated that anywhere from 40 to 73 percent of the performance increases resulted from the memory enhancing effects of sleep.
Nap for Better Health
Naps also have a secondary effect that goes beyond work performance. Sleep deprivation, which is anytime you get less than seven hours of sleep, causes hormonal changes that lead to an increase in appetite, depressed immune system, and slowed mental acuity. But guess what? A 30-minute nap can counteract or even reverse some of the hormone changes caused by sleep deprivation. Nobody likes to get sick, but if you’re looking to convince your boss that a 30-minute nap is a great idea, you can use the evidence of fewer sick days due to better health.
Tips for Better Sleep at Night
Improving your productivity is important, but better sleep has an impact on more than just your professional life. It stabilizesmoods, metabolism, and helps your body heal and recover from stress and injury. While a nap is a quick solution when you’re running behind on sleep, the best thing you can do for yourself long term is to get better sleep at night.
Good sleep starts with a high-quality mattress. If your mattress has lumps and valleys, you wake up achy, or you’ve had it for over nine years, it’s probably time for a new one. Check your local store or online for mattress discounts or sales to save money, but make sure the mattress supports your sleep style and weight. A sleep trial may give you insight into how well a mattress suits your needs.
You can also enhance your sleep by:
Maintaining a regular sleep schedule on weekdays and weekends
Developing a relaxing bedtime routine to help you wind down from the day
Turning off screens and electronic devices two to three hours before bed
Stopping the consumption caffeine early in the afternoon
Keeping your naps under 60 minutes to prevent sleep problems at night
You don’t need to feel guilty about napping. In fact, if anyone asks, you can tell them you’re giving your creative juices a boost.
Have a nice nap! –