There are some practices which are frowned upon at a work place and one of them happens to be a ‘nap’. People who nap during work hours are often considered sluggish; and this can reflect very badly on them in front of their superiors. However, the science behind napping has long been established: A nap during the day can lower stress levels, improve your mood and increase alertness. And working a power nap into your schedule is often easy because the ideal length is only about 20 minutes. This sweet spot is just enough time to restore energy without causing too much disruption to your work duties. Fortunately, this is being recognised more now. Many countries like Japan, China and even in some parts of Europe, employees find the time to put their heads on their desks for a quick snooze. Here are some of the benefits of taking a nap:
Refreshes your mind: Napping can help your brain to recover from ‘burnout’ or overload of information. Burnout is a signal that says you can’t take in more information in this part of your brain until you’ve had a chance to sleep. While we often refuse to take a nap because we feel like we have too much to do, studies have shown that putting in extra hours without rest dramatically reduces your productivity. It would be better to take a 30-minute nap and return to your work refreshed.
Improves creativity: According to nap scientists, napping can improve your sensory perception as effectively as a night of sleep. This means that a steak tastes better, the sunset looks prettier, and a song sounds even better after a good nap. Napping also improves your creativity by both loosening up the web of ideas in your head and fusing disparate insights together.
Boosts learning: Naps improve your working memory. This type of memory is involved in working on complex tasks where you have to pay attention to one thing while holding a bunch of other things in your memory. Napping also improves your memory retention; during sleep, recent memories are transferred to the neocortex, where long-term memories are solidified and stored.
Controls ‘bad’ hormones: Sleep deprivation leads to an excess of the hormone cortisol in the body. Cortisol, known as the stress hormone, helps us deal with fight or flight responses. But excess cortisol increases glucose intolerance and abdominal fat, weakens the muscular and immune systems, stymies memory and learning, and decreases levels of growth hormone and testosterone in our bodies. These deleterious effects can lead to diabetes and heart disease. A study also found that sleep-deprived people are also at a risk of developing an actual anxiety disorder, so take a nap.
Prevents weight gain: The less you sleep the more likely you are to gain weight, a study by Stanford University found. Researchers discovered that a lack of sleep triggers your body’s production of the hormone gherkin, which makes you want to eat more, and lowers levels of the hormone leptin, which tells you when you’re full.
Protects your heart: Just one night of bad sleep can make your blood vessels less flexible. That can raise your risk of heart disease, which can, well, kill you. Scientists think that when your brain is wiped, it signals to your blood vessels to become stiff and unresponsive. The good news: In the study conducted, the participants’ vessels went back to normal after getting enough rest.
Prevents dementia: A lack of sleep may lead to Alzheimer’s disease. Study participants who didn’t catch enough shuteye had greater deposits of B-Amyloid, a plaque associated with Alzheimer’s, in their brains. While you sleep, your brain essentially cleans itself, removing those plaques, the researchers say.
Lowers the risk of diabetes: Not getting enough shut-eye can raise your risk of developing diabetes, according to research. In the study, healthy men who were restricted to 4.5 hours of sleep for four days had more fatty acids in their blood - which can eventually cause your blood sugar to soar - than when they slept for 8.5 hours. Researchers say you should be able to reverse the effects by getting more sleep.
Good for athletes: Taking a nap could actually boost your performance in the gym. A study found that athletes who got more sleep over a three-week period achieved faster sprint times, longer endurance, a lower heart rate and better workouts in general. Researchers say that most athletes don’t log enough shuteye to recover from their workouts, which can mess with their minds, mood and reaction times. But, reversing these effects can easily be achieved by some sleep.
For a beauteous you: Beauty sleep is legit, and guys need it too. Sleep-deprived subjects had more fine lines, uneven skin tone and loose skin. Researchers say that staying up all night can make you age faster by weakening your skin’s ability to repair itself. So, if you feel like you’re not looking your best, sleep on it. It will get better!
Increases attentiveness: When your eyelids are almost too heavy to keep open, you’re not doing your best work. Make time for a nap and then go back at it. A NASA study found that a 40-minute nap increases alertness by 100 per cent. Other studies have found that a 20-minute nap is more effective than either 200 mg of caffeine or a bout of exercise. Yet another study showed that pilots who were allowed to take a 25 minute nap (while the co-pilot manned the controls) nodded off five times less than their nap-deprived peers. They also made less errors during take-offs and landings. If you break up your day with a nap, you will be as alert and energetic for the second part of your day as you were for the first. So, if you’ve got an event planned for after work, take a nap before going out on the town.