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Naps - the Mini Mental Vacation

Posted Mar 30 2009 3:04pm

I was going to write something fascinating and intellectually provocative but then I decided to take a nap instead. When I woke up I’d forgotten what I was going to write about, but I felt great, really relaxed.That’s why naps are so important, they help clear the mind.

So, I went online to find the latest information about the benefits of naps but when I googled “naps” all I came was information about the North American Prescis Syndicate, the National Association of Postal Supervisors,  and the National Association for the Prevention of Starvation!

That will teach me to be so vague. When I was a  bit more precise I came across a wonderful article by a Dr. Gregg Jacob on a site called “Talk About Sleep”

He points out the numerous studies showing a midday/mid afternoon nap can increase alertness, improve your mood, improve your mental function, even save your life. And he says don’t fight it. We have evolved to nap.

Read on.

“Several lines of evidence, including the universal tendency of toddlers and the elderly to nap in the afternoon and the afternoon nap of siesta cultures, have led sleep researchers to the same conclusion: nature intended that we take a nap in the middle of the day. This biological readiness to fall asleep in the mid-afternoon coincides with a slight drop in body temperature and occurs regardless of whether we eat lunch. It is present even in good sleepers who are well rested. Sleep researchers have also discovered that the afternoon dip in mood and alertness is associated with poorer performance, particularly after a night of sleep loss, and a simultaneous increase in sleepiness-related accidents. In fact, deaths from all causes show a secondary peak in the afternoon after a nocturnal peak, presumably from sleepiness-related accidents.”

It’s almost like a mini-vacation. You stop. You nap. You wake up and everything is better. Well, perhaps not everything but certainly several things.

If you are struggling with a problem at work and can’t find the solution, taking a nap could give your brain the space it needs to come up with a fresh approach.

If you are writing something but are stuck, taking a nap can help you find the words or ideas.

Now it’s not always easy for most of us to slip away for a 10-20 minute nap in the middle of the day. The workplace isn’t really set up for that. So maybe we need to change that.

If you are on your lunch break why not take a nap at your desk, or even under your desk - it worked for George Costanza in Seinfeld! Put up a sign on your desk or cubicle or office door letting people know when you’ll be available again.

If you are not comfortable doing that and don’t have an office door you can close try and find an empty office - with the current layoffs it shouldn’t be hard!

When I worked in TV there was one editor who always had a nap after lunch, before resuming work. Of course TV editors work in rooms that are dark and have doors on them that lock, so it was easy for him.

But if you think about it there are lots of options for the rest of us.  If you drive to work, for instance, jump in your car for 2o winks after lunch.

If the weather is nice go outside and find a nice park bench or just lie on the grass (make sure you have sunscreen on though, unless you want to go back to work red-faced!).

If the weather isn’t nice go to the nearest mall and find a bench there. If anyone asks what you are doing just say you are waiting for your husband/wife/friend who is shopping.

Try the public library, it’s always quiet there.

You can take a nap on the bus or train on the way to or from work.

You could even use a restroom to take a quick nap. Not the most comfortable or attractive of surroundings but once you are asleep you won’t notice or care!

The only limit on finding a place to nap is your imagination. And guess what improves our imagination? That’s right, a good nap.

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