Why we should all take a nap in the afternoon

Why we should all take a nap in the afternoon

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It turns out we need a nap during the afternoon. And historically, it seems we've always needed one. There is the Spanish concept of siesta. Italians call it riposo. If you go to China, you are likely many businesses shut down between 11:30 - 2:00 pm. They take a combination lunch and siesta before going back to work. Americans used to call it a power nap, but the research world calls this a nap zone.

We now know that a nap can profoundly influence productivity during the day. Mark Rosekind, a researcher who used to work for NASA - his job was training pilots - actually did an experiment. He allowed his pilots to take a 26-minute nap, then measured their productivity. He found that productivity increased 34% if he allowed his charges to take a nap. He has a really great quote "What other management strategy will improve people's performance 34% in just 26 minutes?" he is famous for saying. 

The research world calls this the nap zone. Other benefits have been found, mostly related to changes in memory performance. Both declarative and procedural memory tasks improve if you take a regular nap. One paper has the delightful title - and remember, this is a research paper "Good sleep, bad sleep! The role of daytime naps in healthy adults. 

I have personal experience with this, and I bet you do too. When I don't take a nap in the mid-afternoon, I typically fight being drowsy from about 1:30 on. If I do take a nap in the mid-afternoon, just a small one, I suddenly get a burst of energy and an alertness that allows me to be productive the entire day. I am pleased to say this anecdotal information has strong empirical support.

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Wes Roberts said...

Thank you for this! I'm smiling because my mother-in-law, before she slipped through the "thin veil" @ 103yo, was a prolific napper. Every day.

As an international leadership mentor, we talk about life in 8 dimensions, and what you suggest so specifically is part of what brings balance and emotional, intellectual and spiritual energy to any life, anywhere on the globe. With the amazing emerging leaders we've the privilege of mentoring, your book, Brain Rules, is a must read. Your work inspires, corrects and nudges us all forward.

Thank you!!! Wes Roberts wes@leadershipdesigngroup.com

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Elliot Ignasiak said...

If one doesn't find themselves tired in the afternoon, but perhaps stressed or mentally taxed from cognitive-intensive work would you still recommend a nap even if you'd have no chance of drifting off? How would just laying there compare to meditation?