The (Not-So-Secret) Benefits Of Power Napping

Take Charge on 08.28.12
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Photo: Lovell D'souza/Creative Commons

Try as I might, I have never been able to understand little kids' aversion to napping. When Casey and Cole were young, I did the thing a lot of parents do; I lay down with them. I loved it too, so, as you can imagine, it was sad day for me when their routine naps went away.

Couldn't we all use a little catnap in the middle of the day? Before you answer, ask yourself this: how much sleep do you routinely get each night? According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average adult needs between 7 and 9 hours but gets just over 6 1/2 each night. If you add that up over the course of the workweek, you can see where we're shortchanging ourselves. 

Enter the power nap. Luckily it's in vogue again to catch 40 winks in the middle of the day (though I would argue for me, it never went out of style). Employers are warming to the idea primarily because time lost while employees are resting, is made up for in productivity. And the benefits are pretty amazing. Instead of reaching for midday caffeine, which can do a number on your body, shutting your eyes for 20-30  increases alertness. Memory retention appears to improve as well, a good thing if your brain is firing on all cylinders from sun up to sundown.

Power naps are also good for creativity and regulating mood. Makes sense, right? You feel better, you'll be in a better mood. But that's not all; there are physiological affects too. That little midday cool down helps to regulate hormones and heart function and get this; not only does your heart benefit right away, there's a long term payoff too. People are more motivated to exercise when they're not so tired. Great news!

When you look at it this way, it's kind of hard to justfy not taking a nap in the middle of the day!

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