Sleep on it: Why regular rest makes for a more productive lifestyle
When a boss catches an employee napping at work, are they likely to be fired or will the employer realise that taking a nap doesn’t always need to be seen negatively; the employee may simply have been recharging their batteries? No prizes for choosing the right answer there.
Unfortunately, taking a nap, or stealing forty winks during the day is usually regarded with negative connotations. In a busy office, naps are seen to be taken by lazy individuals and people lacking ambition. Napping is perceived as the private reserve of older people, but how many folks know that Winston Churchill always demanded a mid afternoon nap? He’s in good company too, being joined by regular napping experts Thomas Edison, John F Kennedy, John D Rockefeller and Napoleon. If it’s good enough for them, might it be right for everyone?
The after-effects of returning to work after a short rest period
There have been many scientific research studies into the effects of napping and they almost all move towards the same general conclusion that a brief nap, usually taken after lunch, can help people become better problem solvers. It also improves alertness and promotes performance and education making it an essential requirement for students as well.
Rest rejuvenates energy, vision, short term memory, performance, motivation, vigilance and patience. With that in mind, one should consider the implications of not breaking up a day with a short rest. You just pictured a bunch of unmotivated, impatient and frustrated people lacking energy and starting to neglect their performance, a scene that will no doubt be familiar to anyone who has ever suffered through the late afternoon period of a long day in the office.
Napping isn’t sleeping. Taking a nap means devoting 10-20 minutes of your time to rest and drift into the first stage of the sleeping pattern, without moving onwards into the deep sleep that won’t help revive a person’s energy immediately and will probably cause more trouble later as less sleep will be required at night.
Rest instills calm
Tired people are more likely to be angry, moody and burn out at a faster rate. Regular rest periods, always taken at the same time every day to help set the body clock, will instill a sense of calm and keep the mind fresh and alert. The heartbeat slows down to a normal level. Blood pressure is reduced because an individual will be lying down and relieving all need for the body’s muscles to work hard.
Stress disappears immediately as a person enters a stage similar to meditation, which everyone knows helps relieve stress and calms a person down after a busy day at school, the office or in the workplace.
Resting helps make work more interesting
Having been established that taking a few minutes break from a computer every forty five minutes will improve a person’s ability to focus on their work and generally install a healthy attitude, taking a nap has similar effects, but with only one 15-20 minute break required.
Instead of popping a can of expensive energy drink which contains excessive amounts of caffeine and taurine to help employees stay awake during the later afternoon, a short power nap breaks up the day’s activities and provides a refocus of the job in hand. It allows the mind to be cleared and if a job is complex, a fresh view of how to complete it, or perhaps presents a chance to step back and then review the work already completed with a final edit for perfection. A caffeine kick from a coffee will take half an hour to work, so it be best to drink the favorite coffee just before the nap begins.
If naps are combined with regular breaks which include time to stand up, walk around, drink water and loosen up, the body will react well to going back to the demands of work, rather than spending all day in one position.
Rest gives you time to reflect
Successful individuals are more able to reflect on their day’s work, especially later in the afternoon, after they’ve made full use of a short nap. When the brain has taken time to shed the excess overload of a day’s work, a clear head can look back at what has been achieved, which helps a person plan for the next day, without high levels of stress making them overly self-critical.
A logical mind gives an employee the purpose to critically look back and see what more they could have achieved, while taking pride in the work that was completed accurately and on time.
There is one final benefit to taking a daily short nap as demonstrated by Greek scientists; people who take short naps in the afternoon are 37% less likely to die from a heart related illness. Isn’t that a significant reason to argue for a regular nap?