Napping: Medicine for the Weary

IMAGE Sleep deprivation is nothing new. It seems our ever-busier lives impact our ability to sleep a full 8 hours at night, or even sleep at all. So how do you catch up? If you are lucky, maybe you can pay back your sleep debt with a quick nap. Check out the information on how to effectively make yourself feel better and be more productive.

The Benefits of Napping

Our bodies run on something called circadian rhythm (biological clock). Most times during the day, our bodies and minds are alert. Other times however, alertness fades and our biological clock prepares our bodies for sleep. When this happens, you may feel tired. It happens at night and in most adults in the early afternoon. What can napping do for you? There is much evidence to support that a nap for 20-30 minutes can improve your:
  • Alertness
  • Logical reasoning
  • Reaction time
  • Energy level
Napping may also have long term benefits. A large study in countries where siestas are common showed that midday napping decreased the chances of death from coronary heart disease.

Timing is everything

Using your body's clock is the best way to determine when the time is right for you. As mentioned above, early afternoon fatigue is common. But a late afternoon nap may make you more tired than you were before your nap, or may keep you awake at night. When you find the right time, how long is the ideal nap? Most experts say anything less than 30 minutes will improve alertness. Anything longer can put you into a deeper sleep that makes you feel groggy for the rest of the day. It is important to listen to your body and rest when needed. This can be extremely important if you are doing something that requires your full attention like driving. If you think about the time of day you feel drowsy, you may be at work. Is there a chance you can take a quick nap?

Workplace Napping

Napping has had a bad rap as a sign of laziness or lack of ambition. However, research has shown that napping can:
  • Make people more productive
  • Help people's brains more quickly sort out important information from things that can be ignored
  • Improve productivity and memory.
Some companies have embraced this research and are taking steps to have "nap rooms" where employees can recharge. These small, quiet dark rooms give employees a comfortable place to catch a few zzzz's.People who work shifts, especially overnight, are fatigued and have a difficult time performing. A hospital-based study found that a combination of napping before work and caffeine at work improved alertness and performance.Now you know what a nap can do for you. Find out the best way to make it happen.

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