Do you nap? Come on; admit it. Would you like to?
According to a new Pew Research Study, a third of the adults (34%) in the United States take a nap. More men nap than women do. The rich and poor nap more. The unhappy nap more than the happy.
Over the years of taking naps and interviewing clients about theirs, I learn a few thing. Recent research supports our experience – learn what you can receive from naps.
Beyond escaping your problems one of the greatest benefit is a nap ability to renew you. Gregory Belenky, MD, Research Professor and Director of the Sleep and Performance Research Center at Washington State University, claim naps are a way to make up for lost nighttime sleep. He states that naps “add to total recuperative sleep time.” Belenky noted that many around the world such as the Spanish divide sleep into two blocks.
Contrary to the belief of many, a nap in the afternoon will not disrupt your night sleep. Research support what the Chinese knew for hundreds of years, around 2AM and 2PM you body slows down. According to Oriental Medicine between two and four are liver times. It is when the liver shifts gears, there by drawing energy from the rest of the body to make these transitions. So, why fight it, why use more energy? Allow your body to do what it wants, sleep. Animals and kids go with the flow, so why can’t we? Tell your boss that work is interfering with “your flow.” Ask her to join you in a nap.
Seriously, naps will rejuvenate you. Give yourself the pleasure of discovering for yourself.
NASA found that having pilots take short naps produced a 34% boost in performance and a 54% boost in alertness. How many times were you tired and no matter how much you tried, you couldn’t focus and produce? Our macho attitudes of pushing through it only sabotage our results. Not only does it take longer, often the results are subpar.
Increase your intelligence
A Harvard study showed that taking a 60-90 minute nap is similar to nighttime sleep and that combining nighttime sleep with napping has twice the effect of improving learning.
In that twilight state between sleep and waking, that trance state where you are semi-aware you have a portal to heighten creativity. This is the place where you the most creative, the most out of the box. My naps are often better places than my sleep to allow my unconscious to create solutions to problems or dream in new opportunities. It is in this transition space that many use lucid dreaming to change a course of a dream to craft a better dream.
Lose weight while you nap
With a nap, you may just generate more energy to do your workout. You may also be less likely to do inappropriate snacking if you nap. As the stress leaves your body/mind, you will have more energy to work and play and less a desire for that quick fix of junk food.
Be a better person
How many times were you short with someone because you were tired? Exhaustion not only creates accidents, it creates emotional outbursts. First, you are more sensitive. The littlest stimulus can be an irritation or a threat to your well-being. Instinctually you will lash out to repel the threat. Secondly, you have less energy to be patience. In a state of exhaustion, you are susceptible to the fight or flight response, the survival response. You are on edge instinctually expecting the worse. In many ways, you are experiencing a mini-PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) moment. Your response is disproportional to the situation.
When a nap makes you worse
For immediate help, a short nap can be the best. Longer naps if you are exhausted may have you waking up groggy and tired. Here you are coming down from being wired while being exhausted. That is a good thing in the long term, but not when you wake up.
If napping is making you more tired, it is a sign that you are rundown. The good news, the naps are bringing you down out of the fight or flight response of your sympathetic nervous system. In the end, this is good because your body will be leaving the stress response. This will allow your body to truly rejuvenate and heal. If you continue with these longer, deeper naps, you will begin to feel and look younger. Over the years, I encouraged clients to forgo the initial tiredness for the long-term benefit of rejuvenation. When the stress and tiredness leaves your body, you will awaken a renewed person.
We live in a culture where quantity has surpassed quality. We come to believe that working longer and harder is better than living well, better than working smart. My aversion to naps represents my belief I need to keep working. Now I am starting to shift my beliefs as I learn that I can enjoy life for and get more done when I slow down and renew myself. I encourage you to experiment with your naps. Let us know your experience.