There is nothing quite like a Power Nap to heal the mind and refresh the body. However, in America, napping during the day is reserved only for infants and the retired. If you’re young or successful in your middle-age you are required — by presupposition of your citizenry — to remain awake during the daylight hours even though there is strong medical research suggesting a Power Nap during the day can make you an even more efficient worker. Here’s the research as reported in a 2002 National Institutes of Health report entitled “Power Nap” Prevents Burnout; Morning Sleep Perfects a Skill:
“Burnout” — irritation, frustration and poorer performance on a mental task — sets in as a day of training wears on. Subjects performed a visual task, reporting the horizontal or vertical orientation of three diagonal bars against a background of horizontal bars in the lower left corner of a computer screen. Their scores on the task worsened over the course of four daily practice sessions. Allowing subjects a 30-minute nap after the second session prevented any further deterioration, while a 1-hour nap actually boosted performance in the third and fourth sessions back to morning levels.
The New York Times expanded on the study:
Researchers put 30 well-rested people through the same set of tasks — distinguishing between shapes that were displayed very briefly — four times in the course of day, starting at 9 a.m. and ending at 7 p.m. They found that performance dropped by more than 50 percent in 10 subjects who stayed awake the whole time. The 10 people who napped for an hour in the early afternoon were able to restore their performances. The 10 people who napped briefly rebounded a bit.
In 2003 the BBC continued to bang the drum in support of Power Napping:
Remarkably, over 24 hours, the performance of those who took a good-quality “power-nap” was as good as volunteers in previous studies who were tested after two full nights’ sleep.
With all this medical research pointing to the benefits of napping during the day, why is the Power Nap not made mandatory by American businesses and the health insurance industry? A Power Nap means fewer mistakes. Fewer mistakes can lead to healthier people who avoid getting injured by being more alert. It is truly unfortunate how Power Napping is culturally condemned in America — and for that reason alone we should lose a night’s sleep.
I find a 20 minute Power Nap works wonders. I close my eyes and meditate on the nothing in front of me and — like clockwork — I “re-awaken” 20 minutes later refreshed and ready to go! I rarely take a 60 minute nap — though after reading all this hard medical evidence supporting the benefits of 360 seconds of bliss, I should reconsider the temptation of a longer nap. Currently if I Power Nap for more than 20 minutes I find it harder to wake up later and it takes me longer to “come around” to the side of the waking.
There is also an old Yoga saying “one cannot be depressed with open armpits.” I always open my armpits during my Power Nap because I am immediately cooler and released. My forearms become a pillow behind my head. If you’re ever feeling down or blue, raise your arms, and you will soon feel better. You can’t try to explain the benefits — you just need to raise your arms to feel the release of tension and toxins. I’d share more Power Napping and Armpit Tips with you but… I’m feeling a little sleepy right now…