There are not many of us who don’t face a mid-afternoon slump in energy. Be it caffeine withdrawal, over exertion or lack of decent sleep, this slump can affect our mood and performance drastically.
While sufficient sleep is generally defined as between seven and nine hours, a National Sleep Foundation survey found the average adult Brit gets just six hours and 49 minutes, compared to an average of 7.9 hours back in the 1940s.
Sleep loss can seriously damage your health and employers are starting to recognise the importance of sleep. Google HQ installed sleep pods in its offices for staff needing a nap. So we spoke to Dr Mark Winwood, Director of Psychological Services at AXA PPP healthcare to find out why sleep, and the habit of ‘power napping’ to catch up, are so important for our wellbeing.
He told us: “Studies of napping have shown improvement in cognitive function, creative thinking, alertness and memory performance. This is backed up by NASA, who worked with military pilots and astronauts, finding that by napping for approx 20 minutes, they could improve their alertness by 100% and performance by 34%. This is often referred to as a ‘power nap’.
“As we go through the day our levels of alertness decrease, so having a nap can be a really helpful way of resetting ourselves. This is fundamental to the cognitive processes that then happen. There are also long-term benefits to regular naps according to research, including reduced blood pressure levels. Scheduled napping can help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. One of the things we know is that sleep is a restorative process, it’s an anti-inflammatory meaning it helps to lower blood pressure and boost your immunity.
“However, it’s important to remember that longer naps can create a ‘sleep hangover,’ otherwise known as sleep inertia, which can disturb your normal sleep cycle. Sleep inertia is defined as the feeling of grogginess and disorientation that can come with awakening from a deep sleep. While this state usually only lasts for up to 30 minutes, it can be detrimental to those who must perform immediately after waking from a napping period. Napping can also have a negative effect on the length and quality of your night time sleep. If you have trouble sleeping at night or have been diagnosed with insomnia, a nap will only amplify problems.”
So next time you’re tempted to take 40 winks in the disabled toilet on the fourth floor, don’t beat yourself up, you’re actually doing yourself a lot more good by recharging your batteries. Although it might be worth suggesting to the boss there could be nicer places to do it…
Article courtesy of www.belleabouttown.com