Take the right sort of nap and you can make your day far more productive.
A nap, properly taken, improves the functioning of your brain in almost every way. Ensuring the occurrence of daily a nap is something of a commonality when it comes to history’s greats. J.F.K., Winston Churchill, and Bill Clinton all were noted nappers. Each made sure to set aside a time for a complete rest, and each, it seems very likely, benefited significantly from the profound effects science has shown napping to provide.
As with most of life’s activities, however, the best results are to be achieved by making sure that your nap schedule is suited to your lifestyle. Fortunately, you need only a few pieces of information about our sleeping habits in order to find out which napping method is best for you.
The benefits of napping
First, what napping can do for you: Studies have shown that indulging in a daily rest can, when properly managed, render an extraordinary array of benefits, boosting your productivity significantly.
Setting aside a time for a brief rest has been shown to increase retentiveness, improve mood, engender creativity, and guard against the dreaded late-afternoon slump. Scientists have found that even very brief rests can help your brain function better, thereby setting you up for the best and most productive day possible. All things considered, a well-timed nap could give your brain just the boost it needs to keep working – and working well – throughout the day.
What’s the best nap for me?
Of course, we’re all different. Some of us really drop in energy as evening approaches; others like the idea of the occasional rest but find the thought of a daily nap unpleasant; still others even find that napping has a detrimental effect their nighttime slumber. If you’re one of these last, napping may not be for you. But for most people, napping is the perfect way to maximize productivity.
Human beings move through sleep cycles, from light to deep to REM (rapid eye movement), and the first of each of these cycles lasts roughly 70-100 minutes. By exploiting your body’s sleeping habits, you can secure the best and most useful nap:
- 10-20 minutes – Ideal for that energy we often find ourselves needing in the latter stages of a hard day.
- 60 minutes – This gives your body time to fall into a deep sleep. Although it may leave you feeling sleepy for a time, a nap of this length helps to consolidate memory of facts.
- 90 minutes – For most people, this will allow for REM sleep (everyone’s sleep cycle is different). Sleeping for this length of time will increase your capacity for emotional and procedural memory. Studies also show that it may help to improve creativity. Since 90 minutes is a full sleep cycle for most if us, you won’t feel sleepy when you wake up.
Go forth and nap!
You may be predisposed to see a nap as indicative of laziness, a habit for your dad (Charlie’s grandfather made it work, but it’s really not for most people).
And falling into bed at the first sign of tiredness is certainly likely to get you nowhere fast. But a good nap, properly planned and taken when needed, will give your brain and body the boost they need for a great and productive day.