January 5, 2017

Not Enough Sleep? 4 Reasons You Need A Power Nap

Working long hours? Does this create an imbalance with your relationships and health? Do you sit up at night addicted to the digital world of social networking? This combination of stress and stimulation means that seven hours sleep every night has become a luxury for you. You are part of a sleep crisis. It’s a global movement. There are hundreds of thousands of people around the world just like you. In this post, we explore two power routines you can adopt as a solution to your sleep crisis.

 

Rest to the dogs

Many people live a sleep-deprived life.

They brag about it. 

Journalist Arianna Huffington, the lady behind the success of the Huffington Post, believes this massive wave of sleep deprivation has created a “sleep crisis”. 

Life is fast-paced. 

Hectic.

You have pressure at work.

You have pressures at home.

There never seems to be enough time to do everything, does there?

As a result, many people (including me) prioritize everything else over a good night’s sleep.

When it comes to rest, people basically shrug it away.

They believe it’s just not important.

Arianna believes differently. She believes if you want to succeed, get more sleep – not less!

What would she know?

What would Arianna Huffington know about the importance of sleep?

She is a mother.

She is a wife.

She is a well-known author, columnist, and businesswoman.

She was President and Editor-In-Chief of the Huffington Post.

She has run for the Governor of California position and lost.

She has made it on the following high-profile lists: 

  • The Most Influential Women In Media
  • The Top 100 Media List from The Guardian
  • The Most Powerful Woman in the World by Forbes magazine.

Last year she stepped down from her influential and driving role at Huffington Post to focus on her new startup, Thrive Global, which is about health and wellbeing.

When I look at Arianna’s life compared to mine – mom, wife, employee, friend, sister, daughter – I am exhausted just reading her bio! So if she credits sleep as one of the reasons she has been successful, I will listen. And so should you, especially if you are career-minded.

The Sleep Crisis and it’s effects

How much sleep do you need to function your best during the day? On average, Americans need 7 hours 18 minutes sleep each night but we are getting 6 hours 40 minutes. But some of us need at least 8 hours of sleep. Source: Sleep in America Poll). 

How does this sleep deficit affect our lives?

  1. Can’t stay awake

More and more employees spend a significant part of their afternoon struggling to stay awake.

National Sleep Foundation

 

Source: Sleep in America Poll

That 29% fell asleep because they felt sleepy or had a sleep problem. This severely limits their productivity and their energy.

2. Experience drowsy driving

How dangerous is that, nodding off whilst driving on the road?

Driving when drowsy

Driving when drowsy is a no-no. Pull over and take a break or a nap to re-energize

Source

3. Sleeping in

Yep, I used to do this quite often. I didn’t get enough sleep at night, so when my alarm startled me the next morning, I just could not get out of bed to face a work day!

4. Experience obesity or excess fat?

When you’re tired, you eat more. This Daily Mail article found people could gain up to 2 pounds per week when sleeping 5 hours each night. Your metabolism slows down so you burn less fat.

How do we cope with our personal sleep crisis

Instead of embracing sleep or rest when our bodies need it, nearly 60% of respondents reach for the caffeine in a coffee or energy drink or consume foods high in sugar and carbs to stay awake. A smaller proportion of people reach for the drugs to keep them alert.

At first, your energy and concentration spikes with these solutions

Then comes the c-r-a-s-h.

These spikes and crashes exhaust the body more.

It can create stress, fatigue and other issues.

That is why achieving a balance with adequate sleep and rest needs to become a priority.

Power napping has proved to be one of the most effective means for reinvigorating and maintaining that energy throughout the day. Before we explore power napping further. let me remind you that if you can address the issue of not getting enough quality sleep at night first, you may avoid the need of a power nap. In other words, address the cause of your sleepiness in the day first before addressing the symptom by taking a power nap.

take a nap

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The power nap

A power nap is generally perceived as an invigorating nap lasting anywhere between 10 to 20 minutes and taken just after lunch to be most effective.

If naps are too long, it may lead to drowsiness and a decrease in alertness, which will contradict the actual purpose of the nap.

But power naps lasting anywhere between 30 to 60 minutes enable cognitive abilities, and benefits of a power nap up to 90 minutes enhances creativity.

Here are 13 rather amusing ways you may be able to get away with napping at work.

The power of power naps

Memory and learning are both enabled by power naps just as well as a nighttime sleep.

Power naps, as well as restoring your stamina and concentration, help in lowering stress hormones that contribute to increased hunger and food cravings. Improved athletic abilities have also been attributed to power naps as professed by various sports athletes.

What studies tell us

Studies have shown that power napping enables the sleep state to consolidate what it has learned during the day. People showed improved cardiovascular function, more creativity, greater emotional resilience, better cognitive functioning, reduced stress, and increased alertness. Moreover, it made people feel more motivated, enthused and eager to engage with others.

In yet another study by NASA, it was observed that napping significantly increased the power of focused attentiveness on one task while the other tasks were held in memory.

Sleep in America poll

Source: Sleep in America Poll

 A dig at promotion

Taking a power nap during the day will make people feel better and more rested. The added dose of energy will help provide a fresh burst of new ideas and energy and boost your productivity to pre-lunch levels in addition to fighting daytime sleepiness.

These are proven facts and it is the perfect recipe to enhance promotion chances and charter the way to a successful career. But will the companies allow it?

power nap

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The corporate fix

Despite all the above studies, corporates are still to acclimatize to the idea of a midday nap for their employees. But employers are beginning to take note. They are seriously taking the notion of rest at work because they recognize the compelling evidence of the impact of sleep on productivity.

Companies including Google, Nike, Cisco, Procter & Gamble, and Facebook already have incorporated sleep facilities at their offices. Employees are encouraged to rest during the day to recharge them to be more productive for the rest of the day.

The Huffington Post have “Nap pods” in their office. Maybe that’s because Adrianna Huffington wrote a book called The Sleep Revolution.

The sleep revolution

Source: The Sleep Revolution
Nap pod

Example of a nap pod used at Wesleyan University

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Are you studying as well?

And it is the same for full or part-time students too. Crammed with over-packed schedules and extracurricular activities, students face the same acute problems of sleep deprivation. The pressure to excel both inside the classroom and outside is immense.

Power naps help students to stop and relax to recharge their batteries. While studying for exams, power naps help in stopping revision burnout and improve the body and brain’s ability to function at full capacity.

Benefits of sleeping

A power nap, irrespective of the nap time, provides people with the following benefits:

  • Improves alertness, stamina, sensory performance and cognitive performance
  • Improves mood and performance
  • Reduces the risk of heart disease
  • Prevents burnout
  • Improves motor skills

Power naps and famous people

Thomas Edison, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Leonardo da Vinci, Charlie Rose and former New York Yankee Yogi Berraare some prominent personalities who claimed that power napping helped them tremendously.

As new parents with a little bub, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West didn’t get much sleep at night. They napped during the day.

People who dealt with great stress during times of war like Napoleon Bonaparte, Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy, used power naps to increase their resilience and energy.

Napoleon

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How would you like to train for 2 hours in the gym every day? That’s what 68-year-old Arnold Schwarzenegger does. He also likes a nap in the afternoon. He takes it easy off camera so he can perform on-camera, doing his own fight scenes and all the running, jumping and shooting required. Source: The Evening Standard.

Even professional athletes realize that sleep is just as important to their performance compared to training, diet, and exercise. Every game day, basketballers Steve Nash Stephen Nash, Derrick Rose and NBA veteran Earl Watson will take a nap as well as tennis star Andy Murray. Source: Huffington Post.

Every company CEO or a successful person today would probably say that they get to sleep no more than four hours at night but have admitted to sneaking in the odd power nap during the day. Hence, the value of power naps should not be overlooked.

Stop feeling guilty

It is time to stop feeling guilty about taking a power nap.

Stop feeling like you are slacking off or weak or lame. Just look at all those famous people who nap for inspiration!

Napping is another way to gain a competitive edge in this cut-throat world of hyper-charged dynamics.  But it should be noted that power naps are not a solution for the lack of a proper night sleep.

You may still struggle with chronic fatigue if they fall short of a good night’s sleep. Those who get enough sleep are successful, focused and happy, not to speak of, healthy.

Power naps are seen as the way to help you achieve that elusive balance between the demands of work and home life.

Power nap

Power nap in a shopping center

Source

You don’t have to fall asleep

It is not essential to fall asleep to get the benefit of a refreshing power nap, though.

But what is essential is that you unplug your mobile phones, ringers and anything else that buzzes. You need to distance yourself from any distraction. A quiet and dark environment is always preferable.

What do you if you don’t need to fall asleep?

Just relax and have a power break.

The power break

Sleep at work? You’re kidding, right? You are not about to pull out your fold out bed and go to sleep in front of your boss! I hear you!

Instead of having a power nap, have a power break!

Even if you are willing to relax while letting your thoughts drift, the subconscious mind enhances your thinking, processes events and visualizes ideas for greater productivity.

4 steps to a Power Break

Try this just after lunch…

Step 1 – REMOVE

Walk to a park.

Sit in your car.

nap in the car

Source

Go to a restroom.

Sit in a disused meeting room away from people traffic.

Go to any area that is private and quiet. It is preferable you try and remove yourself from your work environment.

Step 2 – RETREAT

Close your eyes and try to shut out the noise.

Step 3 – EMPTY

Empty your mind of thought.

Just your mind blank for 10 minutes by focussing on slow breathing.

meditating in a park

Meditating in a park

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Step 4 – END

Slowly come out of your head space. Return to work.

You will feel energized!

A Guided Power Break

If you thought meditation was for yogis in India, think again! Meditation has become more mainstream and guided meditation is perfect for phone apps.

Guided meditation makes for the perfect power break. Even though you should be “unplugged” from your mobile phone, let me recommend two apps that guide you into that state of quiet

Stop Breathe and Think

This is the perfect description for this app. If you have access to WiFi, find lots of free meditation practices here that remove you from the hustle and bustle of life. You can select a meditation based on your mood.

HeadSpace

Only have 10 minutes a day to sit quietly after lunch? No problem. Headspace’ Take 10 program is free – 10 days of 10 minutes meditation each day. Once you finished, just repeat. It stills your mind.

Headspace logo

Try something

So don’t be part of the sleep crisis. Try and get more sleep.

Avoid being sleepy with a power nap or power break. These are great weapons to have in your sleep arsenal. Try it.

Let me know how you go in the Comments section below this post.

All the best,my signature

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