Research shows that napping is not only healthy for us, but can actually improve our performance on the job. So why aren’t we taking naps at work?
It doesn’t have to be long — even a short nap is enough to enjoy the benefits the rest of the day. Your boss still not sold on the idea? Here are five reasons science says he or she should be.
1. Napping improves your productivity.
Fatigue from loss of sleep leads to decreased efficiency and productivity on the job. But experts agree that an afternoon nap can help to increase output. In a study published in Nature Neuroscience, researchers found that the participants’ performances on tests deteriorated throughout the day.
A 30-minute nap between tests stopped the decrease in performance among participants, and those who took a 60-minute nap even reversed the decline.
2. Napping reduces stress levels.One the best things about taking an afternoon nap is that it helps you to relax. Even if you don’t sleep for long, a nap can be a great stress reliever. Stress has a negative impact on our bodies and a nap is a great way to reduce the effects of stress. Even if you don’t fall asleep you still get the benefit of resting. Research backs up the fact that napping is a great way to reduce stress and improve mood.
As we go through the day our brains start to wander. This can lead to workplace inefficiency and even accidents. Nappers are more alert, respond faster and better, and make fewer mistakes.
Even a 20-minute nap was found to improve alertness and performance among shift workers.
4. Napping improves your memory and ability to learn.
Many of us reach for a cup of coffee when we start to feel sluggish, but napping has been shown to be better at improving memory than caffeine. Researchers at Saarland University in Germany found that napping for 45–60 minutes could improve memory and learning dramatically. Participants performed approximately five times better when it came to remembering pairs of words.
5. Napping makes us more creative.
Researchers have found that power naps may boost right-brain activity. The right hemisphere of the brain is generally associated with creative tasks, while the left side with the analytic. Studies at Harvard Medical School and the University of California found you are more creative after a nap if you get REM sleep — the type of sleep during which you dream. The researchers from Harvard suggest REM sleep makes the brain more flexible and open to newer ways of thinking.How to nap at work… And make your boss ok with it!
It’s obviously best if you can get your boss’ permission to take a daytime break. They may be skeptical at first, but they’ll quickly see the benefits in your enhanced performance. Remember, the science is on your side and don’t be afraid to say so.
Even with permission there are some basic things you can do to make your nap more productive.
First, find a quiet space where no one will disturb you such as an unused conference or break room. Many progressive workplaces have actually started including nap rooms to give tired employees a place to rest comfortably. Next, decide on how long you want to nap. It’s best to try for around 10–30 minutes as longer breaks can lead to you to feel groggier when you wake up. It’s also important to choose the best time to nap. According to the Mayo Clinic this is usually after you’ve had lunch, around 2 or 3pm, but everyone is different so choose the time that feels right for you and doesn’t disrupt your night-time sleep.
Bradley Young is the co-founder of Silentmode, a company that creates smart relaxation solutions that help people reduce stress and improve their performance. They are serious about the power of rest.
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