Napping is for champions. Any tired and overworked adult knows this.
Nothing beats the chance to sleep in the daytime. Unfortunately, napping has become unfairly discouraged in our society. Our workaholic culture has dismissed adult napping as a selfish, lazy, and childish activity.
Ironically, naps have become taboo due to the very cultural attitudes that make them necessary.
Thankfully, I am here to share my napping wisdom with you. I am a habitual and enthusiastic napper, and have acquired a wealth of knowledge on the subject through both research and personal experience. Below are four scientifically proven ways that napping can improve your mental capacity and work performance.
Why Should I Nap?
The cognitive benefits of napping are powerful and under-appreciated. Share these with your boss the next time he catches you nodding off at your desk.
1. Napping feeds creativity.
Many, many studies have shown this to be true – and yet, very few workplaces choose to benefit from this information. REM sleep improves our capacity for creative problem solving by allowing our brains to form associative networks. This is especially relevant when it comes to tackling a novel problem. “We found that – for creative problems that you’ve already been working on – the passage of time is enough to find solutions,” explained researcher Sara Mednick. “However, for new problems, only REM sleep enhances creativity.”
To get the most out of your creative power nap, you should take it when faced with a new puzzle. This will help you to process the problem and come up with a solution that is both innovative and unique.
2. Naps improve our cognitive processing skills.
There are many studies that prove the benefits of napping in preschool children – but what about older adults? A study published by Harvard Women’s Health Watch found that healthy adult participants who chose to nap showed significant improvement on cognitive assessment tests. It did not seem to matter whether the participants napped for long or short periods of time – only that they did so consistently.
3. Naps boost memory capacity.
A study by Saarland University in Germany found that taking a nap increased participants’ memory power by an astounding factor of five. As study leader Alex Mecklinger confirmed, “A short nap at the office or in school is enough to significantly improve learning success. Wherever people are in a learning environment, we should think seriously about the positive effects of sleep.” So, would we as a society be wise to institute a universal nap time, applicable to both school and the workplace?
This may not be feasible for all environments, but it is certainly something to consider.
4. Naps revive our level of alertness.
A NASA study found that a short nap has the power to increase our alertness by a shocking one hundred percent. Although the restorative power of napping is a hotly debated topic, it seems that the trick is to limit your nap to under an hour and a half. A very long nap can confuse your body and disrupt your circadian rhythm. It can even lead to grogginess. A short one, however – restricted to a single REM cycle or less – will have an amazing impact on your ability to stay awake and maintain focus.
“I count it as an absolute certainty that in paradise, everyone naps. A nap is a perfect pleasure and it’s useful, too. It splits the day into two halves, making each half more manageable and enjoyable. How much easier it is to work in the morning if we know we have a nap to look forward to after lunch; and how much more pleasant the late afternoon and evening become after a little sleep. If you know there is a nap to come later in the day, then you can banish forever that terrible sense of doom one feels at 9 A.M.,” wrote Tom Hodgkinson in