Science of Napping

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Napping has been a much debated topic in the business world for quite some time now. Tony Schwartz from The New York Times sums it up nicely:

“As athletes understand especially well, the greater the performance demand, the greater the need for renewal. When we’re under pressure, however, most of us experience the opposite impulse: to push harder rather than rest.”

Napping at the office could be a solution.

The movie, The Internship, which came out a couple years ago, takes an inside look at what major corporations like Google and Apple have at headquarters, including sleep pods.  It’s fair to say that most career girls would be happy to grab a little extra shut eye during the day, but what are the facts to back it up? If you’re in need of some justification, check out the following research compiled from Harvard, Fortune, and The New York Times.

1. Power naps replenish alertness.

If you find yourself staring at the screen and losing all sense of space and time, a power nap will help you come back to your tasks with a renewed sense of focus.

2. Caffeine-induced energy results in an exhaustion drop off.

Energy from napping will be prolonged and more level. When you drink a caffeine filled drink you feel an energy crash, or might even have withdrawal symptoms in the form of headaches, with a nap you can keep your energy levels steady for the whole day.

3. Napping allows you to shut off all your senses for 30 minutes.

It’s not just your brain and your eyes that need to rest.  Sitting at a desk with your eyes closed is not as effective as taking a nap because you’re still processing noises and conversations around you, still worrying, still planning.  You won’t be able to forget your surroundings entirely unless you nap.

4. Nappers will spend less time thinking about how tired they are and more time working.

Pretty straight forward.  When we’re tired, we count the hours, the minutes, then start watching the hands of the clock as they tick each second away.  If you had just grabbed 20-minutes of shut eye at lunch, you could be focusing on your assignments and not on going home and getting into bed.

5. Shutting off will clear your thoughts.

If something is bothering you or worrying you, you probably won’t be able to function at your best.  When you’re asleep, however, all these thoughts disappear.  You can wake up after half an hour as if it’s an entirely new day. Often the best remedy for worries and stresses is to ‘sleep on it’, there’s a reason for that!

6. Nappers are more satisfied with the quality of work they’re putting out.

If you’re more alert and less stressed, as proven above, your work output should, in turn, be much better.  If you like the work you see, you’ll keep producing better work.  It’s an upward cycle from there!

7. Nappers maintain a proper sleep schedule.

They won’t fall asleep at early hours of the evening, only to wake up in the early hours of morning.  They will get their recommended sleep throughout the evening and be able to follow their daily routine without being interrupted by exhaustion.

8. People who nap have more respect for those around them.

If you are able to take a nap, either at work or elsewhere, you will be more likely to respect people around you, you’ll wake up feeling refreshed and with a new outlook on any problems.  If your boss suddenly allows you to take power naps between 2 and 3pm, you’ll be grateful in return.  And as a result, the relationship between you two will improve.  And as a result of that, you should feel more inclined to produce better work and please your boss.

What are your thoughts on napping?  Would you ever be able to have a nap at work? 

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