It happens every afternoon – you’re in the office and you hit the mid-afternoon slump when your energy declines, your stress from the day is at its peak, and you just can’t stop yawning. If taking a quick nap sounds like the perfect solution, you’re onto something supported by scientific research. Short naps at work can actually improve employee performance, not reduce it. As forward-thinking companies such as Google, Apple, and Microsoft adopt and implement napping pods for their employees, it’s good to take a look at the science behind napping.
Improved Cognition and Performance
A short nap is a powerful recharge for your brain’s ability to think clearly and perform well at cognitive tasks. Taking a quick nap allows your brain to rest and refresh. Studies show that when people wake after a short nap, their overall ability to remember words or perform a simple fine motor task is higher than before they napped.
Lack of sleep and overall fatigue can create a negative feedback cycle on your mood. As your brain’s ability to function slows down due to fatigue, not only do your cognitive skills falter, your ability to regulate your mood and control negative thoughts also falters. Taking a short nap can help moderate your mood and give you a mental boost of optimism to tackle the rest of the day.
The stress of the daily and demanding tasks at work can build throughout the morning and early afternoon as the hours available to finish that to-do list vanish. Taking a quick nap can help your body and brain relax, allowing you to wake up refreshed. Sleeping and resting can also help to lower metabolic measures such as your blood pressure, contributing to lower stress.
Tips for Successful Napping
Whether you are napping in a workplace setting with employer approval or adding a nap to your work from home setting, there are some simple tips you can follow for better, more successful napping. These tips include:
- Have a moderate amount of caffeine before you nap, not after it; if you nap for 20-30 minutes, the caffeine will be hitting peak effectiveness as you awaken.
- Create a comfortable napping zone where the light and noise levels are reduced, the climate is cooler, and you can lay down in your favorite sleep position.
- Keep naps shorter, ideally 20-30 minutes; naps longer than 90 minutes can create a feeling of grogginess when you awaken.
- Time your naps to match your regular sleep cycles; if you keep daytime hours, try to finish napping before 2 pm.
Even if you find napping during the day difficult due to your workplace setting or your personal sleep cycles, taking 10-15 minutes to rest comfortably in a quiet, dark setting with your eyes closed can be a restful alternative that allows your body to relax and gives your brain a break as well.
Napping is a powerful tool you can add to improve your productivity. Make sure to schedule some daytime sleep time today!