In our current society, time is money. But the common practice of employers squeezing every last bit of juice out of us for profit may actually be dumbing us down, and making us less productive overall.
When was the last time you took a morning or afternoon nap and didn’t feel at least slightly guilty about it? And chances are that nap wasn’t while at work.
It’s the norm in some countries for people to take a siesta in the afternoon and this is built into their way of life, which makes sense as it not only makes you more productive and alert after your little shutdown, but it’s also entirely natural. As humans, the need for naps is a normal part of our circadian rhythm AKA our sleep-wake cycle.
A typical day starts off strong
After we wake up and are fully alert we can push on with things at full power and efficiency. Bu then our level of alertness slowly starts to dwindle. Concentration and focus lapses and we start to feel irritated with the struggle.
In our modern world this lack of alertness may only result in periods of distraction and procrastination but in past civilizations loss of focus could easily result in death. In the hunter-gatherer era it could mean the difference between being predator or prey. But this is quickly remedied with even just a 20 minute nap.
Should daily nap time in the workplace become standard?
Some forward thinking companies, such as Google and Apple, realize the benefits of short naps to keep their employees operating at their sharpest. However most other employers wouldn’t dream of letting their staff take sporadic naps when needed.
As well as productivity, naps also affect our levels of happiness. One University of Colorado Boulder study revealed that children who don’t take naps turn out to be less happy and less engaged with their surroundings than those who do. The children who didn’t take naps also showed signs of anxiety and a reduced ability to solve problems.
Studies have shown that just 10 – 20 minutes is the ideal amount of time to reset the mind and restore alertness and energy. Just over 30 minutes can lead to grogginess as the mind and body prepares for a deeper sleep, however if you can allow yourself approximately 60 minutes you’ll benefit from memory enhancement. If you can aim for somewhere in the region of as 90 minutes, your creativity will increase.
Hopefully with continued research into the effects of napping our culture will one day become more flexible and cater to our natural needs – for everyone’s benefit.