Here’s Why a Nap Can Improve Your Work Productivity
Guest post by Samantha Kent:
Some people think of taking a nap as a sign of weakness, a way of slacking off while the rest of the world keeps pushing forward.
In some cultures though, taking a nap is just as normal as having lunch! Cultural norms and perceptions aside, if you’re not getting a 6-8 hours of sleep at night, a nap can work wonders to keep your work productivity on track.
Are You Fighting Sleep Deprivation?
The average adult needs six to eight full hours of sleep. Still, a census statistics from 2010 show that 35 percent of adults report getting less than seven hours on a regular basis. And as you probably know, a consistent lack of sleep will impact work performance.
Any time you get too few hours of sleep, neurons in the brain slow down, affecting decision-making skills, reasoning abilities, and reaction times.
Your ability to concentrate, focus, and to stay on task goes down the more tired you get. The effects of sleep deprivation work against your ability to perform your best on the job, and your brain isn’t capable of performing at peak efficiency.
And if you are constantly sleep deprived you are at a higher risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression. It may also take you longer to recover from illness.
Naps Can Improve Productivity
Working long hours, family responsibilities, and a fast-paced lifestyle make sleep deprivation far too common. According to a poll in 2008 taken by the National Sleep Foundation, 28 percent of the respondents reported that sleepiness interfered with their productivity.
Naps are by many people considered a habit for children, but today employees are working more hours than ever.
There’s more and more evidence showing that those who take a short nap to counteract sleep loss outperform their colleagues, who are struggling through their afternoon sleepiness.
In a study published in Nature Neuroscience, participants were divided into groups that either took no nap, a 30-minute nap, or a 60-minute nap. Test scores went down the later in the day the test was taken. After being tested four times a day, participants who took a nap for 30 minutes stopped their decline in test performance.
And the participants who slept for 60 minutes actually improved their scores. The reason for results like this is that a 20 to 60-minute nap gives just enough time to enter rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, where the brain can restore itself and make creative connections.
You Should Make Sleep a Priority
Even though naps can help you catch up on sleep, it’s still better not to get behind. A full 6-8 hours of sleep lets your body and brain work at their best. If you struggle to sleep at night, try the following:
- Have a Bedtime Routine: Bedtime routines help relieve stress or tension, and signal the brain to release sleep hormones.
- Skip the Afternoon Caffeine: Caffeine blocks the release of sleep hormones. Therefore, try to avoid it after approx. 2pm to prevent sleep problems.
- Keep a Consistent Sleep Schedule: If you go to bed and wake up at the same time every night, will help you to establish a healthy sleep-wake cycle. Your body will become used to your sleep schedule, and thereby help you to fall asleep easier at night.
- Be Comfortable: A quality mattress that supports your preferred sleep position can help prevent aches and pains from interfering with your sleep. If you need a new one, check reviews to find the best mattresses for the price you want to pay. Moreover, a cool, dark, and quiet bedroom will help also help to improve your sleep quality.
Samantha (Sam) Kent is a researcher for SleepHelp.org. Her favorite writing topic is how getting enough sleep can improve your life. Currently residing in Boise, Idaho, she sleeps in a California King bed, often with a cat on her face.
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