Wake Up to the Benefits of Power Napping – Boost Clarity, Happiness and Cardiovascular Health

By  Carolanne Wright

Guest Writer for  Wake Up World

Albert Einstein, Leonardo Da Vinci, Nikola Tesla, Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy all have one thing in common: daily mid-afternoon naps. Linked with clarity, increased performance, memory, mood and even heart health, naps are an economical (and fun) way to boost mental and physical health. Many companies are now sanctioning office nap times to increase productivity and morale. By following a few simple steps, a blissful catnap can become a happy and healthful habit.

Guilt-free napping

Seeking an excuse to grab a bit of shut-eye? Take a look at the following benefits:

Cardiovascular Heath

Greek researchers found that men who took a 30 minute nap at least three times a week lowered their risk of dying from a heart attack by 37 percent. Factors such as smoking, diet and activity level were included in the study.

Healthy Weight Management

When energy naturally drops in the afternoon, coffee and sugar tend to be the usual stimulants of choice. But afternoon sleepiness is a biological rhythm related to a slight decrease in body temperature — nature is telling us that it wants us to take a nap. By attempting to ward off drowsiness with caffeine and sugary snacks, biorhythm is disrupted, extra calories are consumed and a rollercoaster ride of energy spikes and crashes begins. This vicious cycle contributes to unwanted extra pounds.

Alertness, Improved Mood and Performance

A mid-afternoon nap can help with depression, dullness and lack of clarity — all of which can hinder physical and mental performance. As seen in the  Harvard Health Letter, a New Zealand study found that “air traffic controllers working the night shift scored better on tests of alertness and performance if they took advantage of a planned nap period of 40 minutes.”

According to Sara Mednick, PhD, sleep medicine researcher and author of  Take a nap! Change Your Life, a nap will also:

– Reverse aging
– Strengthen the sex drive
– Accelerate the ability to perform motor tasks
– Enhance how the body utilizes carbs
– Minimize stress hormones
– Alleviate migraines
– Reduce brain chatter before nighttime sleep

Napping basics

A few quick tips to get the most out of a nap:

– Try to keep naps under 45 minutes to avoid grogginess
– Naps are best taken between 1:00 and 3:00 PM
– 30 minute naps improve memory and physical health
– 20 minute naps are revitalizing and help to sharpen the senses
– 10 minute naps help to uplift mood and fend-off afternoon energy slumps

Sleeping on the job

Even large companies are beginning to see the benefit of power naps. Google has ‘nap pods’ that create a sleeping oasis by blocking sound and light while Intuit Canada provides nap rooms for its employees to enhance overall productivity. A napping spa in Manhattan is used by big names such as Hearst Corporation,  Newsweek  and Time Warner. Clients enjoy a “cocoon-like” treatment room with adjustable lighting, sound and aromatherapy.

But a fancy cocoon is not necessary to take advantage of napping  benefits. Simply get comfortable, close your eyes, set the alarm and bask in this nurturing (and productive) habit.

Article Sources

“The Benefits of Napping” Deborah Serani, Psy.D., Psychology Today, psychologytoday.com

“Napping: Do’s and don’ts for healthy adults” Mayo Clinic. mayoclinic.com/health/napping

“Napping may not be such a no-no” Harvard Health Letter, November 2009. health.harvard.edu

“19 reasons to take a nap” Ellen Michaud with Julie Bain, Best Health. besthealthmag.ca

“Siestas have heart-healthy effects, study suggests” CBC News, February 12, 2007. cbc.ca/news/health/story/2007/02/12/siesta-heart

“The Benefits of Naps” Dr. Gregg D. Jacobs, July 27, 2004, Talk about Sleep. talkaboutsleep.com

“Power Nap: Promote Health and Happiness” Janice Taylor. Beliefnet. blog.beliefnet.com

“Businesses waking up to the benefits of napping” Jascha Hoffman. Bloomberg Businessweek, September 6, 2010.  msnbc.msn.com

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About the author:

Carolanne Wright

I’m Carolanne — a writer, chef, traveler and enthusiastic advocate for sustainability, organics and joyful living. It’s good to have you here. If you would like to learn more, connect with me at Thrive-Living.net or visit Twitter.com/Thrive_Living.

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