Research shows napping at work can boost productivity
For some Americans, naptime is sacred. They have no shame announcing, “I’m going for a nap!” And right they are, according a substantial body of scientific data that sings the praises of a midday snooze. But can we take our love of napping to work? More companies, from Ben & Jerry’s to Google, have turned into believers, encouraging employees to catch some zzzz’s on the job.
That’s good news for almost one-third of Americans who have embraced the almighty nap habit as a daily ritual. But what about the other two-thirds? After reading compelling new evidence about the benefits of napping, they may be persuaded to jump onboard the sleep train as well, joining such illustrious nappers as Thomas Edison, JFK, Salvador Dali and Albert Einstein.
Snooze news you can use
You can fill a book with all the physical and emotional benefits associated with napping, but the latest scientific findings are impressive – and surprising. A University of Hertford study uncovered a link between naps and happiness. Participants were divided into 3 groups – no nappers, short nappers (30 minutes or less) and longer nappers who slept 30 minutes and more. The two-thirds of the short nappers reported the highest levels of napping.
Previous research done on half hour naps showed that they help with focus, productivity and creativity. Now, add happiness to the list.
Emotional regulation – the ability to manage emotions – is an important survival skill. A University of Michigan study found that a 60-minute midday nap meant people were less impulsive and had a higher tolerance for frustration. The thinking is that a snooze provides distance from an event that provokes an emotional response.
What’s your nap style?
Humans should be, by all counts, natural nappers. Studies show that 85% of mammalian species sleep for brief periods throughout the day, aka polyphasic sleepers. Yet we’re the only ones that divide our days so distinctly between day and night/awake and sleep periods.
Human nap styles fall into three categories.
- Emergency napping happens when you just can’t stay awake and carry on with your activities because of tiredness.
- Planned napping is a preemptive strike against tiredness – warding it off before it occurs.
- Habitual nappers head for their snooze at the same time every day.
Which matches your preferred snooze of choice?
“If you nap longer than 20 minutes you will end up going into a deep sleep” says Christopher Lindholst, founder and chief executive of MetroNaps, When choosing a nap, aim for 20 or 90 minutes. Think about what you want to accomplish with your nap. Do you just need a quick power nap or a longer snooze? A full cycle of sleep is 90 minutes, which will really help with alertness – but the average employee doesn’t have that amount of time in the afternoon. Try the NASA Nap, a 26-minute nap that will increase performance by 34% and alertness by 54%. Reserve those longer naps for weekends.
5 steps to help you plan the perfect workday nap
1. Keep it short. Napping for 10 to 30 minutes will help recharge your energy levels without throwing a monkey wrench into your nighttime sleep. Even a 10 minute one will help improve your alertness for at least a couple of hours.
2. Make it a habit. Napping at the same time each day will make it easier for your to fall asleep quicker.
3. Time it right. Late to mid-afternoon are the nap sweet spots according to researchers who looked at two groups of nappers – one got their zzzz’s at noon and the other at 2 pm. The latter group did better on mental performance tests and was more alert. Plan accordingly.
4. Kick it up with coffee. Down a cup of cool java before your na[. Caffeine takes about 10 minutes for the effects to start kicking in and peaks at 45 minutes. Drinking coffee right before a short nap helps energize you immediately after waking.
5. Set an alarm. Set an alarm on your smart phone and sleep with headphones on to block out noise. Wearing an eye mask will block out light and signal to others that you are intentionally napping at work.
Rest well & wake up ready to go!
Better sleep gives rise to better mornings, bringing your goals into focus and dreams within reach. Hungry for more sleep info? Dig into these posts:
- 6 TED Talks about naps
- Healthy, energizing afternoon snacks
- Is there a difference between weekday and weekend sleep?