Nap Time: Not Just For Children
You’ve seen it again and again: kids complain and whine that they don’t want to take a nap. They fight it. They refuse to settle down, or keep chattering away in defiance of the inevitable. But eventually the nap wins and voilà, it instantly transforms them. They wake up refreshed and ready to get on with the afternoon, like completely different children. Even if they only stay asleep for half an hour, the recharging they get can change the entire day for them. It’s as if sleep is some kind of magic elixir that can turn everything around, both physically and emotionally.
So why haven’t we learned from watching them? After all, we adults are the ones with all the stress, all the anxiety, all the hassles of living in the world of grown-ups. If anyone needs a reset button during the day, it’s us just as much as the kids. Yet we often don’t make time for any rest periods at all until evening, much less actual sleep. A nap during office hours seems self-indulgent, even lazy, but the truth is that sleeping for short periods during the day can help boost alertness and focus, which in turn can increase productivity and communication skills.
Stress and anxiety are two major factors that affect our ability to function at the highest possible capacity. But there is an easy way to help get a hold on seemingly unsolvable situations. Have you ever freaked out about something in the evening, only to wake up in the morning and find it doesn’t seem like that big a deal anymore? Sleep has a way of giving perspective and calm when everything around you seems hopeless and chaotic. A nap is a good way to let your brain step back from a situation, regroup, and get in control again. Many crises seem much less critical when you get some distance from them, and a quick nap can provide that much-needed perspective.
You may think that you don’t have time during the day to take a nap, but it doesn’t have to be a two-hour siesta. Even a quick twenty minutes of shut-eye can have major health and emotional benefits, and that time can easily be incorporated into your lunch hour (after all, it doesn’t take an hour to eat). Also, it is essential to take the entire equation into consideration — if thirty minutes of sleep refreshes you to the point that your last few hours of afternoon work are twice as productive as usual and you go home feeling accomplished and energized instead of exhausted and miserable, then it’s probably worth it to make the effort to build a nap into your schedule.
You might find that the first few days of napping are difficult. If you wake up feeling groggy or you have trouble getting back into the momentum of your day, you might be inclined to give up, thinking napping is not for you. But don’t despair — just like any other routine, napping can take some time to get accustomed to. Your body will quickly adjust to this new gift of extra rest, and soon enough you’ll be an expert at getting to sleep easily and waking up just as easily, with full alertness and improved ability to finish out the day’s work.
Increasing your overall productivity is of course one major benefit of a daytime sleep break, but the real prize is the emotional well-being and mental sharpness that can come from sufficient periodic rest periods. You’ve seen how kids are after a nap: happy, well-adjusted, ready to face anything. Wouldn’t you like to feel like that during the day? So take the time to have a nap, and be the envy of all the stressed-out people in your office.