Do you ever take an afternoon nap? To many people, naps are considered a luxury or a sign of laziness but in truth, too many of us are chronically sleep-deprived and the quickest of naps can do wonders.
Greek American author, syndicated columnist and businesswoman Arianna Huffington (co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post) shares with us the reason why her offices have two nap rooms and are actually working on a third.
But how can napping for just 20 minutes really help? Consider the following:
A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that an afternoon nap is associated with a 37 percent reduction in coronary mortality.
While they admit that they don’t know whether the benefit came from the nap itself, the expectation of a nap or a reclined position, they concluded that this decrease in blood pressure may be why lower coronary mortality has been found in those who take an afternoon nap.
Study participants who napped regularly for 10, 20, and 30 minute periods improved their performance on cognitive memory tests and vigilance, conducted in the subsequent two and a half hours.
While those who napped for longer than 20 minutes suffered from that deep groggy feeling afterwards, the 10-minute nappers experienced an immediate boost in performance. Not only will napping boost your memory, it’ll also improve your alertness, reports the National Sleep Foundation.
A NASA study on tired astronauts found that an afternoon nap improved performance by 34 percent and alertness 100 percent.
An Afternoon Nap Calms Your Nerves…
At a Berkeley University, study participants were shown faces that expressed anger, fear and happiness at noon, and then again at 6:00 p.m. The subjects were significantly more upset by angry and fearful faces later in the day, unless they’d had an afternoon nap, in which a degree of REM sleep was experienced.
Willpower is especially low in the afternoon and as Psychology Today reports, when you’re sleep deprived, your brain has an especially hard time ignoring distractions and controlling impulses.
Their advice to combat this is of course an afternoon nap, as this can reverse the usual willpower drain. It can, they state, also improve your mood, restore focus and reduce stress.
If you’re one of those who struggle to take an afternoon nap, have no fear, you can still seek the benefits that they offer in the same amount of time.
Simply finding a quiet place to rest or better still meditate, will give you that all important ‘boost’ to see you through the rest of the day in peak condition, just as a power nap would.
You could try some simple breathing exercises, like breathing slowly and counting your breaths or:
Inhale for a count of 3 and exhale to a count of 6, then repeat!
This can help slow down your brain as well as really filling and exercising your lungs.
A very wise man (Tony Schwartz) once said :
In a world of rising demand, rest should no longer be demonized, but celebrated for its intimate connection to sustainable high performance.