When faced with what might seem an insurmountable challenge, the last thing you might expect to hear is, “take a nap” – yet a nap might be the best thing you can do.
This Productivity Ninja started napping when her children were young. A nap was the only way I could get through dinner and the evening without turning into Mrs. Scary. Over the years, I realized that the energy and creativity gained is well worth the time invested. There are days now where I deliberately walk away from a perplexing situation, take a nap and wake up with a solution.
Great Nappers of History
We live in a world where statements like “I could never nap during the day.” are heard far more often than, “I think it’s time for my afternoon nap!” Given that, you may be relieved to discover many accomplished people were also accomplished nappers: Leonardo Da Vinci, Napoleon, Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jean Autry, JFK, Ronald Reagan, Winston Churchill (even “modern” nappers such as Katy Perry).
Churchill boasted a nap made it possible for him to get twice as much done. Others, like Thomas Edison, were embarrassed about their naps. Apparently Henry Ford showed up at Edison’s lab one day while Edison was snoozing behind closed doors. When Edison’s assistant tried to stop him from going into the office, Ford said, “But I thought Edison didn’t sleep very much.” The assistant answered, “He doesn’t sleep very much, he just naps a lot.”
Science and benefits of napping:
A mere 20-30 minutes of shut eye:
- Gives your system an immediate reboot
- Prevents wear and tear on the body
- Provides emotional resilience
- Improves creativity by relaxing the mind and letting new connections form
- Reduces heart disease
- Makes you more productive. Productivity is about managing your energy not managing your time. A 2002 Harvard Study found that workers who napped 30 minutes a day returned to beginning of the day productivity levels.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends “short 20-30 minute naps” are best for productivity. We non-scientific types refer to these as the “cat nap”.
Cat naps provide significant benefit for improved alertness and performance without leaving you groggy or interfering with nighttime sleep. In fact, if you drink coffee BEFORE you nap, the caffeine kicks in just as you wake up!
Productivity Ninja’s (and nap experts alike) suggest the following napping tips:
- Nap in the early afternoon
- Pick a comfortable, dark place.
- Make sure mobile devices or anything with a ringing or pinging is out of hearing distance. There is one thing worse than missing a call while you’re napping which is taking a call in the middle a nap…
- Be discreet if you’re in an office, i.e. nap behind closed doors.
National Nap Day
Need more convincing? National Napping Day is observed on March 14th. The idea was founded by a Boston University Professor and his wife concerned about American’s losing sleep as the result of daylight savings time.
“Our goal,” said the good professor, “is to encourage folks to take a nap. March 14 is a day when nappers all over the country need to lie down and be counted.”
Sound a bit unorthodox?
Bravo; Productivity Ninjas are encouraged to stray from the usual routine! Napping during the day may seem quite unorthodox which is why we suggest you give it a go. In other words, embrace unorthodoxy.
Finding your energy dips in the afternoon or you find yourself staring mindlessly at a computer screen? Take a nap – or as we used to say to our kids – 30 minutes of “quiet time” in a horizontal position. We suspect you might be pleasantly surprised at the result.
Lie down and think about it.