The How-To: Making Naps Work For You
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According to The National Sleep Foundation, more than 85% of mammalian species are polyphasic sleepers, meaning that they sleep for short periods throughout the day. But recently, humans have become monophasic sleepers, this means that our days are divided into two periods, awake and asleep.
However, there is no evidence that this is the natural sleep pattern of humans. Young children and elderly persons nap, for example, and napping is also a very important aspect of many cultures. Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Napoleon, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, and George W. Bush are known to have valued an afternoon nap.
Taking 20-30-minute naps can restore alertness, enhance performance, and reduce mistakes and accidents. A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34%, and alertness by 100%. Even companies like Google, Nike, Procter & Gamble, and Zappos are starting to support naps at the office.
Now, for all you wannabe nappers out there, the question on top of your minds right now probably is: well, how does one nap, and is there a right way to nap? To get the most out of your power naps, here’s what the Mayo Clinic suggests. Follow these three pointers for a rewarding restful break:
1. Keep naps short. Aim to nap for only 10 to 20 minutes. The longer you nap, the more likely you are to feel groggy afterward. However, young adults might be able to tolerate longer naps.
2. Take naps in the early afternoon. Napping after 3 p.m. can interfere with nighttime sleep. Individual factors, such as your need for sleep, your sleeping schedule, your age, and your medication use, also can play a role in determining the best time of day to nap.
3. Create a restful environment. Nap in a quiet, dark place with a comfortable room temperature and few distractions. After napping, give yourself time to wake up before resuming activities- particularly those that require a quick or sharp response.