Need an attitude boost? Take a nap!
Sorry, I should have finished this blog last Friday. Or at least over the weekend. But between the gray, dreary fall weather and the cold I was fighting, I kept succumbing to one of my very favorite temptations: the afternoon nap. Something we deem absolutely necessary for children’s wellbeing yet consider laziness or, at best, an indulgence, for ourselves. Why is that, when we adults are the ones more likely to be sleep-deprived?
Well, I’m here to say, bring back the nap! And not just on weekends, either. Napping is good for your health, your positive attitude and your performance. Cornell psychology prof and sleep researcher James B. Maas has found that a 15- to 20-minute power nap (he coined the term) helps people be more productive, alert and cheerful the rest of the day. (My naps were longer and I didn’t accomplish more than usual afterward—thanks to my cold—but I certainly felt better, physically and mood-wise.)
Two recent studies show more positives to napping. Matthew Walker of UC Berkeley tested a group of adults on fact-based memories. He had them learn 100 pairs of faces and names, then match them up. Afterward, half the group was allowed to take an afternoon nap of up to 90 minutes. The other half stayed awake. When they were tested again in the evening, those who didn’t nap saw their performance drop by 10 percent. The nappers, meanwhile, actually improved 10 percent.
Allegheny College researchers Ryan Brindle and Sarah Conklin had their study participants either stay awake or take up to an hour-long nap during the day, then measured their blood pressure during and after a mental stress test. Blood pressure rose in both groups during the test (they had to do complex subtracting exercises in their heads, which would definitely cause me stress) but afterward, the people who napped for at least 45 minutes had significantly lower blood pressure readings than the non-nappers, indicating better cardiovascular recovery from stress.
You probably can’t sleep for 45 minutes during the workday, but try a power nap. I bet you’ll wake up feeling refreshed. Happy napping!
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to lie down and close my eyes for 15 minutes...