I missed my nap yesterday. It was Sunday, and that means I should’ve looked forward to a long, luxurious nap. But, no. We had places to go and people to see. No nap.
Like most people with families, jobs, activities and interests, I am often operating on less than optimal sleep. I used to joke with my husband that if I could just get in a full 8-hour sleep for a few nights, he might be married to a nicer person! But, alas, this is just not the case in our current lifestyle. (I will leave you guessing as to whether it’s the sleep that’s sub-par or my attitude…!)
While naps do not necessarily make up for inadequate or poor quality nighttime sleep, a short nap of 20-30 minutes can help to improve mood, alertness and performance. Nappers are in good company: Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Napoleon, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison and George W. Bush are known to have valued an afternoon nap.
- Naps 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%.
- Naps can increase alertness in the period directly following the nap and may extend alertness a few hours later in the day.
- 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.
And on hot days, after some outdoor activity, there is truly nothing more exquisite than a nap in a cool room with a fan going. Unless it’s a cold, winter day, after a warm meal, with a warm blankie, and an old movie…
OK, you get it, I love naps. And you should too.
So the next time you feel fatigued and need some energy, don’t reach for the coffee, do what Dr. Sara C. Mednick, PhD, sleep expert and author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life recommends. “You can get incredible benefits from 15 to 20 minutes of napping,” she says. “You reset the system and get a burst of alertness and increased motor performance. That’s what most people really need to stave off sleepiness and get an energy boost.”
And, if you need to nap at the office, just fit your head into one of these super cool (creepy!) Power Nap Head Pillow things…
So, don’t call or text me next Sunday afternoon, I’ll be making up for lost nap time. Hope you do to!