When was the last time you took a nap? With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, many of us find naps to be a waste of precious time, but it’s just not true. While naps can’t replace a good night’s sleep, studies show that a good nap can help boost alertness, memory retention, creativity, productivity, and so much more. Now let’s separate the truth from the lies by busting its myths one by one.
Myth #1: Naps are only for children, the elderly, and lazy people.
False. Napping is for nearly everyone! Experiencing a midday slump is a part of our circadian rhythm, the body’s natural 24-hour cycle. People typically feel drowsy about 8 hours after waking up, which is typically around 1-3 pm.
Unfortunately, napping doesn’t have the best rep in many workplaces because of society’s 24/7 work mentality. A quick nap is actually perfect for the office, as it’s been proven to boost productivity, creativity, and overall mood. It’s no wonder that designated nap rooms have emerged from major companies like Google, the New York Times, and even Ben and Jerry's.
Myth #2: Any nap helps you re-energize.
False. Although we're totally pro-nap, some naps can leave you feeling groggy if you wake up during deep sleep. Timing is key when it comes to naps, so avoid the sleep inertia and set an alarm for these times based on your needs:
10-20 minutes for a quick boost in energy and mood
60 minutes for a boost in short-term memory retention (may result in slight drowsiness)
90 minutes, a full sleep cycle, for a boost in creativity and emotional/procedural memory retention
Just remember to factor in the amount of time it usually takes you to fall asleep when planning your nap, and you’ll be good to go!
Myth #3: There’s no time or place for naps!
False. While it can seem difficult to find time and a suitable place for a nap, especially with a 9-5 job, it’s not impossible.
If you have an hour-long lunch at work, try dedicating half of that time to a nap. Eat your meal, head to your car, and park in a shaded area. Keep some ear plugs and an eye mask stored in your glove compartment so you can easily block out the sunlight and tune out the cacophony of traffic sounds while you nap. It’ll help you fall asleep faster and maximize your nap time.
Meanwhile, if you're a college student, try fitting in a nap between classes at the library, student lounge, or even a shaded lawn area.
Myth #4: It's bad to take a nap close to your bedtime.
True. It’s best to take a nap before 4 pm, or you’ll find it difficult to fall asleep at your regular bedtime. It's important to stick to a consistent bedtime and wake time schedule for the best sleep quality and more energy.
Myth #5: When it comes to your rest, just listen to your circadian rhythm.
False. Your circadian rhythm certainly influences your sleep-wake cycle, but it's not your body's only rhythm. Meet the ultradian rhythm, the neglected sister to the circadian rhythm. While the circadian rhythm runs for 24 hours, the ultradian rhythm is a 90-120 minute cycle that relates to activity and rest. Researchers have found that after about 90 minutes of activity and focus, the body sends signals that it needs a break to rejuvenate itself. Have you noticed that after working on one assignment for a couple hours, your mind begins to wander and you let out a yawn? That's your ultradian rhythm at work.
Next time you're working hard, listen to your ultradian rhythm and take a 15-20 minute break after 90 minutes of intense focus. The best type of break? A nap, of course. It'll increase your productivity and decrease your fatigue. You could also go outside and take a walk, grab a cup of water and relax, or chat with a colleague.
Myth #6: Napping on your desk is uncomfortable.
False. Well, sort of. If you’re randomly napping at your office desk while everyone else is working hard, it might be uncomfortable having your coworkers scowl and whisper about you. Just add a Coop pillow into the mix, and your coworkers might start whispering about how comfortable you look with your head nestled perfectly into the cushion. Feel that jealousy in the air, and wake up refreshed and ready to power through the rest of your day.
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