Taking a Power Nap
“No day is so bad it can't be fixed with a nap.”- Carrie Snow, Stand-Up Comedian.
In an ideal world we would rise in the morning and have the same level of sustained energy all day long.
Unfortunately, energy levels rise and fall within us owing to the varied circumstances of our lives and the type of work we do.
This is one factor attributed to the amount of coffee people drink since it's probably the best known artificial stimulant used to get that caffeine boost.
There is also the fact after we eat we can feel tired, producing the so called, 'afternoon slump' effect.
It could probably be argued the Spanish, 'invented' the power nap since they introduced the idea of the Siesta - which means a short nap taken after lunch.
The power nap is usually best if kept to a short 20 minute duration and acts as a top up for your brain giving you a fresh boost of energy.
Additionally if you can find the space and time to do this you will find you are less likely to doze off in front of the T.V each evening.
So, whatever you call it - 40 winks (U.K), Cat Nap (U.S), Siesta (Spain) or Power Nap (U.S), - Try to find a space in your day to use this tried and trusted method.
What are the benefits of a Power Nap?
It increases your productivity
Productivity is based on how alert, aware, efficent, focused and energised you feel.
The more tired you feel the less likely it is that you will remain in a productive state.
To keep on working without taking any kind of a break leads to less productivity - not more.
It improves your ability to remember and absorb new information
When you feel sluggish your concentration levels dip.
This impedes your ability to learn and recall things.
It improves your imagination
When we are tired it get's hard to be creative.
It's a bit like a battery on low charge....it will soon run out and won't be able to power the appliance it's meant to.
Our brains are similar. We all need downtime to recharge or own batteries.
Nighttime, weekends and holidays are the preferred methods but what about the rest of the time?.
If you can make some, 'me-time', during the day, you'll find you are better able to cope and be in a better head space to be creative.
Leaving a problem, taking a nap, and coming back to it will provide an expediant way to find a solution that was not previously apparent.
Not doing so will only lengthen the process.
It helps to reduce stress levels.
Our stress levels will rise and fall depending on the demands placed on us whether at work or at home.
Continuous stress can in time lead to a range of illnesses especially those related to blood pressure and coronary health.
Taking a power nap daily can help reduce this possibility.
It has been noted that countries where siesta's are commonplace, such as Spain or Greece, tend to have lower levels of heart disease.
It is a natural condition
Taking a nap during the day is quite natural and is not 'laziness', as percieved by some.
The benefits clearly outweigh the aruments against this.
Animals have several sleep periods throughout the day and can still sleep at night.
You are not being lazy, napping will make you more productive and efficent after you wake.
If you fear sleeping for longer than twenty minutes set an alarm clock.
I don't have 20 minutes!!.
That's fine, 20 minutes is good but if you can't manage that due to the constraints or space of your working environment or otherwise, all is not lost.
Any break is better than none, so even closing your eyes for a brief time can be beneficial.
With no visual stimulus coming into your brain it reduces it's need to process information.
A Micro-Nap of 2 to 5 minutes or a Mini-Nap of 5 to 20 minutes can be just as effective.
Where can I take a nap at work?.
If you take a power nap in a crowded office, it will not be percieved as such by your boss or peers.
You will be percieved as, 'sleeping on the job'.
The options are limited but you do need privacy and a place you are unlikely to be disturbed.
In some instances finding your safe heaven could be your car on your lunch hour.
It may be a bathroom stall where you can just sit whilst crossing your forearms over your knees and resting your head.
Won't it affect my sleep pattern?.
It has been argued that napping just throws off our natural sleep cycles with the result we won’t get a good nights sleep.
It is true our body clock requires regularity in routine in order for us to function at our best.
If you get up each morning and go to bed each night at a different time, you will upset the natural rhythm of your body clock.
But if you are steadfast about the hour you rise and the hour you retire you will harmonise your body clock.
Adding a power nap to the equation will not disrupt this cycle if it is also taken at a regular time every day.
On the other hand, if taken sporadically it will be disruptive.
Like all things in life it's a question of balance.
Further Reading Suggestions -
Permission to Nap: Taking Time to Restore You by Jill Murphy.
The Art of Napping by William Anthony.
Take a Nap! Change Your Life by Sara Mednick.
“There is more refreshment and stimulation in a nap, even of the briefest, than in all the alcohol ever distilled.”- Edward Lucas, Correspondent and Author.
Advisory : Never drive or operate machinery whilst in a tired condition. The results could prove to be fatal to both yourself and others.
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