Many people experience the sensation of drowsiness and exhaustion in the middle of the day. For some, it hits around 2p.m. to 3p.m. For others, right after lunch. Most run for a cup of coffee or a can of soda, “energy drink” or other type of stimulant.
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California and the author of “Take a Nap! Change Your Life,” Sara C. Madnick, PhD. Says, “If you can’t find extra time at night, daytime naps can be one way to treat sleep deprivation. You can get incredible benefits from 15 to 20 minutes of napping. You reset the system, get a burst of alertness, and increased motor performance. That’s what most people really need to stave off sleepiness and get an energy boost.”
The Harvard School of Public Health and University of Athens Medical School in Greece conducted research on napping and found something surprising. Regular napping may reduce stress, and as a result, may decrease the risk of heart disease. Perhaps that’s why Greece has such a healthy population with low heart disease numbers. They regularly nap.
There are some secrets to making your nap work better:
1. Make the room dark. It will help you to fall asleep faster.
2. If the room can’t be dark, wear an eye mask.
3. Make it a quick nap, about 30 minutes.
4. Nap in the early afternoon- around 2p.m. or 3p.m. Each person can work their naptime into their own particular schedule. Naps in the early afternoon do not interfere with nighttime sleep patterns.
5. From my own experience, I did not sleep the first few days. That’s okay. Lie down quietly and concentrate on nothing. Let your mind drift. Even laying down quietly will help. Eventually, you will sleep.
Companies in the United States are investing in naptime for their employees. Ben and Jerry’s in Vermont has nap rooms for their workers. They noted increased performance and employees take fewer sick days.
While not every company has taken advantage of this research, perhaps they should. I know that most of the sick days I took while working a “Nine-to-Five” job were due to exhaustion. My immune system was wrecked because of getting up at 4:30a.m. to catch a bus at 5:25a.m. to get to work by 7a.m. The commute home was just as long, if not longer. I believe a nap during the day would have helped tremendously.
When I worked in EMS as a Paramedic, I napped during the day. Most of the shift did. As a result, we were able to make calls throughout the night and function well.
These days as a writer, I turn everything off and take a hint from my cats. I lay down on my bed, sleeping mask over my eyes, and snooze. Thirty minutes to sixty minutes later, I awake refreshed and ready to continue writing.
If your company does not provide a nap environment or naptime, try this. If your lunchtime is thirty minutes long, try sleeping for fifteen minutes in your car. If your lunchtime is an hour, try sleeping for thirty minutes. For those without a car, I would sleep in the break room at the table, or at one of the outside patio tables.
Speak to your fellow employees and go to your company’s management to see if there is a place you could use for lunchtime naps. It couldn’t hurt.
Source: Mayo Clinic Staff, “Napping: Do’s and don’ts for healthy adults,” Mayo Clinic Website, 5 October, 2010
Source: Jennifer Soong, ” The Secret (and Surprising) Power of Naps” , Web MD Website, 28 May, 2010
Source: Tory Johnson, “Should You be Allowed to Nap at Work?”, Good Morning America Website, 30 September, 2010