October 30, 2012
Children get to nap, sometimes twice a day. Even kindergartners get to “rest” during their school day. Unfortunately, American society frowns on adults taking naps. Yet research suggests that naps are highly beneficial…especially in the workplace.
A Stanford University study shows that 20% of us suffer from sleepiness. Earlier sleep studies suggest that a 10-minute nap is helpful now and then, while current research indicates that a 30-40 minute nap is even more beneficial because it allows time for the napper to enter into a state of “repair.”
The sleep cycle consists of three stages - light sleep, deep sleep (when the body begins to repair itself) and Rapid Eye Movement (REM). A half hour+ nap allows us to reach deep sleep, regaining lost sleep from the previous night.
Interrupting, or waking in the middle of a sleep stage may be counter-productive and create a sense of grogginess and disorientation. The key is to know our sleep cycles and wake at the completion of a sleep stage.
That mid-afternoon lull and sluggishness is not just the result of the big meal we had at lunch (although that may play a factor). We have a natural drowsiness that occurs approximately 8 hours after we wake. Some companies have responded to this fact in an effort to increase productivity: Google and Nike have designated nap areas for their employees, and encourage mid-shift napping. Continental Airlines pilots take turns napping, especially during longer flights. The benefits? Reduced stress, increased learning capacity and patience, better reaction time and better health.
So, let’s take a nap!