Forget the old adage, “You snooze, you lose.” New research is showing that napping during the workday can actually help increase overall productivity during the workday. However, there’s a catch; the benefits of napping during the day depend on the amount of time you spend sleeping.
According to research from Journalsleep.org, subjects who power napped for 10 minutes experienced dramatically improved productivity within the hours following the naps as opposed to subjects who napped for 5, 20, or 30 minutes. So why does 10 appear to be the magic number?
Here’s what the researchers concluded:
“The 10-minute nap produced immediate improvements in all outcome measures (including sleep latency, subjective sleepiness, fatigue, vigor, and cognitive performance), with some of these benefits maintained for as long as 155 minutes.”
In a nutshell, the research suggests that taking 10 minute naps in the late morning or early afternoon enable people to catch the mental rest their brains need without slipping into sleep inertia, the drained, still-sleepy feeling you experience upon waking. Getting the “perfect 10” in your nap time can be a bit difficult for one very obvious reason; most people can’t completely control when their brains shut off and turn on again. However, there are a few simple things you can do to help yourself sneak that nap into your routine:
1. Set a timer. If you think it will take several minutes for you to drift off, give yourself 15 or 20 minutes instead of 10. By adding some “buffer” time at the start of your power nap, you’ll ensure that you’ll get 10 minutes of actual sleeping time before the timer goes off.
2. Optimize your environment for a nap. Dim or shut off your lights, turn off your monitor, and silence your phone. It’s also a great idea to bring along earplugs or noise-canceling headphones if you are sensitive to noise or work in a loud office.
3. When it’s time to wake up, well, wake up. A power nap is called a “power” nap for a reason; the benefits are condensed into a short timespan. If you sleep much more than those 10 minutes, you risk slipping into a deeper sleep that is much harder to get out of. You don’t have to feel deprived on 10 minutes – you’ll be surprised at how energized you’ll feel immediately afterwards.
Napping may be perceived in our fast-paced society as laziness or a waste of time and billing hours, but napping done right has a greater return on investment than some marketing campaigns when it comes to productivity. Don’t be afraid of catching a bit of shut-eye mid workday. You – and your boss – will notice a positive difference.