Your afternoon siestas may do more wonders to your body than you could ever know. If snoozing in the office is not the norm, here are some scientific researches to back your need for appropriate Zzzs.
They call it "power naps" – short but immensely helpful slumbers that don't have to go through various sleeping cycles. These take a few minutes; about 15 to 20 a day, and it's enough to replenish your body, pushing out the feelings of lethargy you may be reeling the whole morning. A study done by the University of Leeds disclosed that this kind of sleep can boost one's creativity and decision-making skills. Not only that; power naps can also reduce the potential of heart problems, depression and diabetes – issues likely to surface when you don't get the right amount of sleep.
Nerina Ramlakhan, lead study author, notes that sleeping as little as four hours can be dangerous to the body. Power naps in the office, especially those done in between 2 to 4 pm, can show positive results to the struggling and stressed. The findings indicate that these naps help the individual in various ways, such as improving their problem-solving skills, and rebalancing their immune system.
Older adults will greatly benefit from afternoon naps, says a study done by researchers at University of Pennsylvania. According to the Journal of the American Geriatric Society in which the study was published, sleeping in the afternoon improves one’s memory skills and revitalizes brain performance as if it was five years younger. About 3,000 elderly Chinese were involved in the study, wherein researchers gauged participants’ mental capabilities by recall tasks and math problems. They were also asked to copy drawings of shapes and objects. At the end of the study, researchers found that people who took naps, about 60% of the participants, did better than those who did not.
Dr Nicole Lovato from the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health compared afternoon naps to be as effective as a cup of coffee. Instead of choosing a kick of caffeine, Lovato insisted that one should sleep instead. "Naps are not only beneficial because they make us feel less sleepy and more alert," she said. Not only that, afternoon sleep also improves one's reaction time, short-term memory, cognitive functions, and even moods.
Waking up during light sleep will give one a better working state of mind. Don’t take too long, however; waking during deep sleep will have consequences. One, Lovato mentions, is that you will wake up feeling drowsy and sluggish. Two, you might get less sleep at night when your body is supposed to be really resting.
A short nap, hence, is like a soft reboot button. It does not enter the deep sleep phase but still offers enough boost of energy for the mind and body.
Who takes short naps? Perhaps more people than you think. Winston Churchill was famous for his saying, "You must sleep some time between lunch and dinner, and no halfway measures." Albert Einstein enjoyed his polyphasic siestas in consistent times. Margaret Thatcher would not be disturbed in between 2:30 and 3:30 pm.
In the past, taking short rests at work may seem like an indulgence, but today, we recognize the advantages of listening to the body’s needs and giving in to a much-needed snooze. Tap into the power of sleep. Go on; turn off your computer and take a 20-minute nap to catch up with today's tasks.