Most people (myself definitely included) love taking a nap. The problem is that we are either “too busy” or feel guilty about taking one, when we all have such busy daily schedules, and so CHOOSE not to take this time out.
Ultimately though, naps are hugely beneficial for state of mind, productivity, alertness and a great source of self-care.
There are all sorts of things we tell ourselves as to why we can’t find the time for such self-care techniques (as the saying goes “if you don’t have 10 minutes to meditate, you should do 20 minutes”…I think this should extend to naps too). Do any of these sound familiar?
- “If I have a nap it means I lose that time to do XYZ”.
- “I’ll be deemed lazy if I take a nap”.
- “I don’t have the time to take a nap”.
- “What will people think of me if I take a nap, everyone else is so busy?”
- “No one else is taking a nap, I feel bad if I do”.
It is worth remembering that we are in fact human, and not robots, thus managing our bodies and our minds are of massive importance. We cannot operate at our most effective level continuously throughout the course of a day. We’ve all been in scenarios before before where we are physically there, awake, in the room…however mentally we are unable to effectively navigate the task in front of us to the (or anywhere near to) best of our abilities. There in body but not in mind!
A study by NASA studied the effects of napping in 747 pilots. Each participant, on average, napped for 26 minutes a day, with NASA concluding that the nap increased performance by 34% and alertness by 54%.
How AMAZING is that!? By remembering these types of stats from official, credible research, it can help you overcome the guilt associated with taking some time out for yourself, as you begin to realize, that in actual fact, by taking say 30 minutes out for a snooze, over the course of working for 10 hours your net productivity gains will be around 3 hours (make sure to share this with your bosses, haha).
There are different types of naps as you can see from the infogram – though in terms of increasing focus, alertness and productivity 5-30 mins is the desired range.
The rule of thumb is that the best nap time is between 1pm and 4pm, though you should remember that sleeping is highly individual, and the amount of rest one person needs can be entirely different from someone else.
Evolutionarily speaking, the human body was not meant to stay awake for 16 consecutive hours on end which means it’s normal to feel tired somewhere around seven hours after waking up. Check out the circadian sleep cycle image – this is for someone waking up at 6am so you will need to shift the times according to your own personal requirements.
You will need to pay attention to your body’s energy levels to ensure you time your naps right to maximise their benefit…which will give you the right amount of energy for the remainder of the day.
Take note from Winston Churchill and schedule in your daily naps the same as you would a business call or a meeting.
So there you have it – all the information you need to feel just in your desire for a nap, and why it’s in everybody’s best interest (including most importantly your own) that you do so regularly.