Retreat into the comforts of your bed in the middle of the afternoon… And you'd become more productive? What? If you're in a state of disbelief, you're not alone. When science hinted at the benefits of taking an afternoon siesta, many were skeptical–fearing that the downtime would eat into, and, thus, extend their working hours.
But today, the picture is becoming increasingly apparent. A quick power nap can indeed make you a better worker by boosting your productivity. Not convinced? Here’s what you need to know.
The link between naps and increased productivity
While scientists are still unclear on just how, exactly, naps improve cognitive functions, there is an overwhelming amount of studies that link naps to increased productivity. For instance: according to a 2009 review published in the Journal of Sleep Research, naps improve performance in areas such as reaction time, logical reasoning, and symbol recognition–even in well-rested participants.
More impressively, a 2008 study found that taking a power nap in the afternoon is more beneficial for various cognitive functions (e.g. perceptual learning and verbal memory) than drinking a cup of coffee!
Are there any other benefits?
A 2015 study found that napping can boost mood. Participants were less impulsive and better able to tolerate frustrations after a 60-minute midday nap. Pretty useful for those days where your colleagues seem extra annoying, eh? Taking a mid-day ZZZ break is also good for your heart. A 2007 study of more than 23,000 participants found that napping at least 3 times a week lowered heart disease chances by 37%!
That said… Be clear about the reason why you’re napping
Power naps in the afternoon will not make up for poor quality night-time sleep. Make sure you’re still getting adequate sleep–anywhere between 7 to 9 hours–nightly. It's also worth noting that not everyone should nap. If you notice that your afternoon naps affect your night-time sleep quality, napping might not be for you. Regardless. There are a few things you could do to minimise these unwanted side effects.
How to nap effectively
These are just some of the precautions you’ll need to take to get the right benefits:
- Keep naps short – Napping for too long can lead to sleep inertia, where you’ll wake up groggy. Anywhere between 20 to 30 minutes is enough for you to reap its benefits.
- Create a restful environment – As with your night-time sleep environment, you’d want to nap in a dark, cool, and quiet room. And if that’s not possible? Wear a sleep mask.
- Take naps in the early afternoon – Napping at 5 pm is likely to impact how well you sleep at night negatively. In most cases, you'd want to schedule your nap for anywhere between 1 pm to 3 pm.
So, you know what to do the next time the post-lunch yawns start to set in, right? Grab your eye mask and snooze away. And to get the most restful nap, be sure to schedule it into your day. Knowing that you’ve carved out the time on your schedule will help you rest easy.
But… You don’t have a routine set yet? Well, The Daily Routine Journal is perfect for you. With its unique, research-backed layout, it’ll help you become the most productive version of yourself. See how others have hacked their productivity here.
Another useful and relevant blog in finding some balance, especially as the third week of January shifts us up another gear into the new year.