Better Sleep Month: Boost Productivity and Sleep Quality with Napping
May is Better Sleep Month, and our focus is on helping you get the quality sleep that you need to live a happier and healthier life. Getting a good night’s sleep is critical to not just your overall health and well-being, but also your ability to focus and be your most productive self.
That means listening to your body and giving it the rest that it needs. And believe it or not, napping plays a key role in just that – it’s not just for your kids, folks!
Most American adults aren’t getting enough sleep, and it’s affecting their health and their ability to do their best work. Admit it: when you hit the afternoon slump, you turn to caffeine to give you the boost that you need to make it through the rest of your day. But what if you actually listened to your body and tried a nap, instead?
That might sound crazy (and even a little laughable), but napping has been shown to promote better focus, increase decision-making abilities and creativity, and improve overall productivity.
Unfortunately, many of us have developed the belief that napping is for slackers (or Kindergarteners) and allowed ourselves to buy into the following napping myths:
Afternoon drowsiness is due to eating too much at lunch. Wait, what? If that was true, why doesn’t breakfast make us sleepy? You’re tired because you’ve been awake and active for 7 or more hours and your body is crying out for some rest.
Napping makes you groggy. The truth is that power napping (snoozing for no more than 30 minutes) allows you to give your body the rest that it needs without descending all the way into a state of deep sleep – interrupting that cycle is what causes that groggy feeling.
Hours on the job is equal to hours of productivity. While that is true for some people (factory workers among them), most of us make a living through jobs that require some type of creative or critical thinking, which is tied to our overall energy level, not time spent in the office.
Studies into the benefits of napping have proven that short naps can greatly improve energy levels – with as little as 20 minutes spent napping showing an enormous boost to mental clarity and productivity.
For most people, the afternoon slump happens around 3 p.m. and that’s when a power nap can really save the rest of the day. Napping for 20 or 30 minutes during that dip in energy levels has been shown to:
-Quicken motor reflexes
Napping has even been shown to reduce or prevent health issues, such as migraines, ulcers, heart disease, diabetes, and even some forms of cancer.
Some major companies have noticed the benefits of napping and are providing their employees time during the work day to rest and recharge. Companies like Google, AOL, and the Huffington Post have even begun offering “napping zones” to their staff in an effort to promote productivity and decrease their healthcare costs.
Even if you’re not fortunate enough to work for a company that gives their team the ability to nap while at work, you can still find some ways to recharge during your day by trying some of these simple techniques:
-Lean back in your chair and rest your eyes for 10 or 15 minutes
-Take regular “brain breaks” by getting up from your desk and moving around
-Tackle more important projects in the morning and leave mundane tasks for later on
-Have “walking meetings,” which allows you to grab some sunshine and fresh air
Following these tips when you can’t catch an afternoon power nap will help keep you productive, as well as allow you to fight off sleep deprivation due to stress and exhaustion when you finally have turned in for the night.