When All You Need is a Nap!


In a society based on performance and productivity, energy boosts have never been more in demand. Caffeine, energy bars, energy drinks, you name it! But maybe humans forgot about a more natural yet efficient way to gain energy. Napping.

Alright, I hear you! You don’t have time for that. I see. I know. What if I told you that a 20 minute nap would increase your productivity to better than what you would be able to do for the next 2 hours you would have spent yawning? According to sleep expert Sara C. Mednick, PhD, a 15 to 20 minute nap resets the system and creates a burst of alertness and motor performance. As for longer naps, between 30 and 60 minutes, they help boost memory and enhance creativity.


Where Does it Come From?

Did you know that more than 85% of mammalians are polyphasic sleepers? That means they sleep for many short periods during a day. Humans are among the few monophasic sleepers, meaning our days are separated into two clear periods: awake and asleep. However, there is no evidence that it is a natural pattern for humans. Maybe the evolution of our lifestyle forced us to sleep this way. The best examples of this theory might be children or older people who often nap during the afternoon.


Types of Naps

According to the National Sleep Foundation, there are three types of naps: planned, emergency, and habitual.

A planned nap refers to those who take a nap before they get sleepy. This would be the case for the late night workers who plan a nap before their shift.

An emergency nap takes place when someone suddenly feels very tired and can not go on pursuing their activity. Long haul truck drivers who pull over to nap at rest stops are an example.

Finally, a habitual nap is the nap you would take every day at the same time. For example, a person who naps 30 minutes each day at 1pm. Young children fall in this category. The people who take habitual naps will tend to get sleepy each day at the same time, because their body is trained to do so.


A Negative Side?

Napping has multiple benefits. Some research even states that naps can reduce stress and decrease the risk of heart disease. However, longer naps (more than 30 minutes) can leave the person feeling groggy or disoriented. That is why most researchers will recommend shorter naps. Therefore, setting an alarm can be a useful thing to consider.


How Napping is Perceived

Another indirect negative side is how napping is perceived. Many still see napping as a sign of laziness or a lack of ambition. That might be another reason why we prefer to deprive ourselves of sleep rather than being seen as lazy.


My Own Experience

I personally have mixed feelings towards naps. I mainly took them while I was pregnant and when I had young babies. It is true that most of the time, I woke up refreshed and more productive. However, when I am very tired, naps leave me groggy. A short nap is not enough and I tend to forget about the alarm and just keep on napping, which explains the groggy feeling.

I guess the key for me is to go with planned napping. Getting a nap before I feel sleepy. That way, I probably would only experience the benefits.


Do you use naps?


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