Break the Rules, Take a Nap

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Once upon a time someone said something very wise: “napping can transform you into the person you want to be”. He or she also said that “napping is amazing,” and you know it.

Taking a nap like a boss means you’re taking a siesta a la mediterranean way, and that’s perfectly fine. Any Italian, Greek or Spanish person could tell you the infinite benefits of the sacred post lunch nap, and if they did, you would just listen because they created the whole thing, and all the world should thank them for that.

Where does the siesta thing comes from?

We have to time travel to the XI century and look for one of the San Benedict’s rules (the motto of the guy was quite cool by the way, “peace, pray and work”): relax and quietness in the sixth hour. Which means from the latin, the time of the day between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m.

According to San Benedict, abbot of Nursia in the region of Umbria, Italy, every monk should lay down in bed, in total silence, to rest and recharge energy for the day. This habit spread and many more monasteries began to use it too and also the people in the villages around, who started calling the habit “siesta”.

What’s the siesta or nap and who really takes it?

It’s a short period of sleep and a natural consequence after eating aliments, due to your blood traveling from the nervous system to the digestive system. This induces people into a sleepy mood that is proportional to the amount of food eaten. And given the reputation of Spanish food (where siestas have become a tradition on its own), it totally makes sense for the Spaniards to take a break after lunch.

For that reason, some people may call them lazy (Greeks are pretty famous for their lazyness too, and one of their mottos in the scorching summer is that “if you can beat the heat, take a nap”), but that’s just a made up lie elaborated in the cold blooded country of Germany. In fact, several surveys have come up with astonishing results that show that German people are –wake up from the siesta and listen to this carefully– the ones who take more siestas than anyone else. OK, so maybe Germany is not what they really want to sell us, right?

And what about one of the most efficient known countries like Japan? They are not only efficient but cool. Some Japanese firms strongly encourage their dozy workers to sleep on the job and even their health ministry has introduced guidelines recommending that everyone of working age take an afternoon nap.

The Advantages of Taking a Nap Are Real

Have you realized that humans are among the few animals that take their sleep in one single shot? Why don’t you learn something from your dog or cat and become a polyphasic sleeper. There are many advantages of doing so…

  • Increases alertness. A study made by NASA stated that napping for 40 minutes increases alertness by 100%.
  • Better learning and better memory. You will pay better attention when well rested after a delicious nap, no doubt about it.
  • Naps boost your creativity. Remember this guy? Come on! Don Draper? Mad Men? Awesome TV show about advertising in the New York of the 60s??? After a nap he could sell you absolutely anything.mad-men-don-draper-nap
  • Improves your health. Napping gives your brain a chance to rest and your body a chance to heal.
  • Keeps your mood cool. According to Sara C. Mednick, author of “Take a Nap! Change Your Life” and Assistant Professor of Department of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside, “napping bathes your brain in serotonin, reversing those effects and creating a more positive outlook.”
  • Did I say already that naps are totally awesome? Seriously, they are.

How to Take the Perfect and Efficient Nap?

There are multiple nap styles out there. Leonardo da Vinci took multiple naps a day. Napoleon was not shy about it either. John F. Kennedy used his bed. And John D. Rockefeller his office. Every nap can be a good nap. But here you have some basic tips to not fail in your napping cool lifestyle…

  • Keep it short. 20 to 30 minutes nap is the ideal one. See? Longer is not always the solution.
  • Find a dark, quiet, cool place. It’s a no brainer that reducing light and noise help everyone to sleep faster. Watch out for the temperatures too. Nobody wants to sleep in the middle of a Siberian tundra, right?
  • Schedule it. In the same way you have breakfast at 8 and start working at 9 and have a cigarette break at 11, be sure to have scheduled your 30 sacred minutes of healthy nap.
  • Don’t feel guilty. Naps will make you more productive at work and at home because they are –again, say it with me– amazing.
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