Guest post by Dr. Floyd Spence
It’s free! It has no side effects, and it will improve your performance and productivity. In a busy, continually demanding society and a workforce filled with “the walking tired,” taking a nap may be what you need as a leader to recharge for greater productivity levels. Hence, the recommendation, “Take a nap! Improve your performance,” may be worth considering.
The working tired
Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, people began sleeping less in developing countries due to the workload placed on them to meet industrialization demands. Fast forward to our current time, and activities in the business community have not slowed down. The pace of life has accelerated. The need to produce more in less time has even intensified, with you as a leader, business owner, or employee getting less rest and becoming more exhausted as you race against time.
Sadly, but not surprisingly, sales of caffeine and other stimulants have skyrocketed in order to stave off fatigue, with the intent of improving performance. While caffeine consumption may help deal with drowsiness in the short term, there is a more effective alternative: the nap.
Benefits of napping
Scientists no longer argue about the need for naps or whether or not naps are helpful. Instead, they now explore more technical issues regarding how quality, duration, and timing affect the benefits derived from a nap. One of the first questions I get asked when I recommend taking a nap to my coaching clients is, “What are some of the benefits that one can get from having a nap?” To this question, I generally ask them to take 20 minutes for the next 3-5 days, and then let me know what benefits they receive. The result is usually astounding!
Leaders who want to be on top of their game while leading their organization through this turbulent, energy-demanding, and competitive business world can benefit from napping as well. Just a few of the benefits of napping include reduced fatigue, better decision-making, increased alertness, improved stamina, reduced stress, improved mood, improved perception, improved performance, quicker reaction time, and better memory. These all translate into improving your bottom-line.
In addition, NASA has found that naps make you smarter — even in the absence of a good night’s sleep. It is no wonder Uber, Google, and many other companies in Silicon Valley have installed dedicated nap spaces in their headquarters, with the hopes that a midday shuteye will boost productivity and enhance employee creativity.
Best way to nap
Since it is now conclusive that napping has a profound impact on your well-being, you taking a snooze at specific times of the day can help you optimize your performance and have you functioning at the top of your game. Hence, to get the most out of your nap, keep naps short. Aim to nap 10 to 20 minutes since longer naps create sleep inertia and will most likely cause you to feel groggy afterward.
Taking naps in the early afternoon is also more beneficial than earlier or later in the day and will give your energy levels a boost. This recommendation is because of the circadian (our so-called biological clock) dip in alertness between noon and 4 pm. However, napping after 4 pm should be a no-no, as it could lead to prolonged sleep inertia.
With endless stressors, high-pressure scenarios, and the constant physical, emotional and psychological demands of life and work, napping can give you a reset on your energy level, increase your alertness and improve your performance. Happy napping!