When I was a child my Momma would put my sister and I down for a nap just like many parents still do today. However, Momma did it a bit differently she would also take the time to get in a nap herself. No matter what day it was she would set a timer for 30 minutes, tuck me and my sister into bed and she would lay on the couch. She gently instructed us not to come out of our room and especially not to wake her until the timer sounded. At the time I was too young to understand this daily ritual of napping. But, Momma knew what she was talking about.
According to the National Sleep Foundation taking a daily nap can :
- Restore alertness, enhance performance, and reduce mistakes and accidents. A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness 100%.
- Increase alertness in the period directly following the nap and may extend alertness a few hours later in the day.
- Scheduled napping has also been prescribed for those who are affected by narcolepsy.
- Napping has psychological benefits. A nap can be a pleasant luxury, a mini-vacation. It can provide an easy way to get some relaxation and rejuvenation.
Well then that could be why so many cultures include naps as an integral part of their lifestyles. I witnessed this first hand while staying in Europe. The infamous siesta is still alive and well.
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According to the Crozer-Keystone Health Center there have been a lot of famous people who confessed to napping:
- Winston Churchill: The legendary Prime Minister of the United Kingdom believed naps helped him accomplish twice as much work each day. Although he napped during the afternoon, which is the best time of day to do so, he often spent up to two hours sleeping. If you don’t have that much time to devote to a nap, or if you plan on sleeping well through the night, a 10-30 minute nap is sufficient time for your body to refresh itself.
- John F. Kennedy: It was a daily habit for former U.S. President JFK and wife Jackie to take post-lunch naps for one to two hours—so much so, that everyone who worked in the White House knew not to disturb the resting couple. Kennedy also practiced good sleeping hygiene and created a restful environment by making sure his room was dark and free of distractions.
- Thomas Edison: In addition to inventing the light bulb, video camera, and the phonograph, Edison was also a closet napaholic, since he usually only slept for three to four hours a night.
- Napoleon Bonaparte: This little French emperor with a massive amount of energy would often go days without getting a solid night of sleep, and would take frequent naps to make up for it.
- Stonewall Jackson: During the Civil War, Jackson was known for his ability to nap anywhere—under a tree, on a porch, or even in the midst of war. In addition to long naps, he’d also take 5-minute breaks just to rest his eyes.
- Salvador Dali: The surrealist painter believed that the secret to becoming a great artist was “slumber with a key,” which was the ultimate micro-nap. Dali would sit in a chair while holding a heavy metal key over a plate on the floor, and as soon as he fell asleep, the key would fall and wake him up. He believed it boosted creativity, thinking his best ideas came as he was just edging into sleep. It’s rumored that Albert Einstein and others also adopted this napping style.
There are 3 types of naps:
- The Planned Nap
- The Emergency Nap
- The Habitual Nap
Our society has become so stressful with the daily demands put upon us by our employers, children and finances. So much so, that the average American doesn’t get the required 8 hours of sleep that is needed to keep us healthy in mind, body and spirit. Not only that, society has brought such stigmas associated with napping like:
- Lack of ambition
- Napping is only for children, the sick and elderly.
Doesn’t that just sound shameful?
Fortunately, there are corporations who are promoting nap time in the 21st century work place such as Hubspot and Google.
Hubspot offers its employees a nap room featuring a hammock suspended above plush carpet and cloud covered walls, while Google offers its employees energy pods complete with a reclining chair, soothing music and an alarm that wakes the napper with light and vibrations as reported by Entrepreneur.com.
Inc.com reports that Chris Yarde, founder of Yarde Metals in Bristol, CT incorporated napping rooms with couches for his employees who primarily work 3 manufacturing shifts 24 hours at day. He states,
“Without a question, [naps] improve productivity,” Yarde says. “It’s funny how these things go. It went from being totally ridiculous to being cutting edge now.”
Other corporations include OnSwipe, a Manhattan start-up as well as Pontiflex, a 60-person mobile app ad shop in Brooklyn.
I consider myself an emergency napper. If I find myself unable to focus and concentrate during my day I know I didn’t have a restful sleep the night before. So in order to regain my focus I will take a 20 to 30 minute nap. I wake up feeling recharged allowing me to bring my A game for the remainder of the afternoon. I don’t nap daily but let me tell you if I’m feeling out of sorts you will find me in my office taking a quick snooze before going on with my tasks.
Do you find the need for the occasional nap? If so, what kind of napper are you?
See you in the comments,