Sleep is becoming somewhat of an obsession in our modern world, hence the reason for this website. One thing that the industrial revolution and climbing the career ladder made us sacrifice is sleep. We have a flurry of research being done in this area and it’s nice to see more light shining on the subject. I’m starting a personal revolution to claim back my sleep by reducing the stressors in my day.
I’m in Bali at the moment for a little R&R. One of my favourite things about this place besides the villa, private pool, clean air, lush greenery, fresh organic food, the friendly people (…I could keep going), is that I get to nanna nap! Whether you call it a nanna nap, catnap, siesta, power nap or snooze, napping is one of those forbidden luxuries that has received a bad rap in the western world for being associated with laziness.
Coming from a fast-paced world, I find it hard to switch off immediately when on holidays. It takes me a few days to cleanse my brain of work thoughts, so my initial naps are usually spent thinking about work and life admin, with no actual restorative napping occurring. Sound familiar? However, now that I am a few days in I’ve had time to unwind and practice my relaxation (who would have thought relaxing needed practice?), work is now a distance memory and I can finally nap properly.
Believe it or not, there is a science behind napping, it’s actually good for you and helps increase productivity. Think about it, when you wake from a short nap you are usually more relaxed, you approach problems with non-emotional ease and overall you are more efficient.
A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness 100%.
If these guys say it’s beneficial, I think I’ll take their advice.
So many disasters have happened as a result of sleepiness and fatigue. These tragedies include Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, The Challenger Explosion, The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, American Airlines Flight 1420 Crash and the Metro North train crash. On a personal level, when I was suffering from chronic sleep paralysis, I would microsleep behind the wheel daily, that’s scary! All of these occurrences are evidence that sleep and daytime naps are extremely crucial.
I know what you’re thinking, of course you can nap while you are sitting in Bali by your private pool enjoying a few Bintangs, you don’t have work, kids or dinner to navigate. You are right, but this holiday will end and I will eventually go back to my real life with all of those real-life challenges. But, one thing I always try to hold onto when I get back is the holiday glow or holiday feeling, and I believe napping can help me do this. So how am I going to do Bali napping during my busy time poor life?
Well, I read a book recently called Own the Day, Own your Life by Aubrey Marcus, which has a chapter about napping and its effectiveness. As it goes, we usually fall into a lull about mid-afternoon, that’s when productivity levels decrease and you are more prone to being distracted by Facebook or that 3pm pick me up coffee or chocolate. Aubrey suggests an afternoon nap during your lunch break to combat this, just for 30 mins, while listening to binaural tunes. This length of time and these tunes basically place you in a state of nap that is restorative and will help you get through the afternoon with an enthusiastic bang! Aubrey has binaural tunes available on his website which you can sample and choose your favourite jam. You can download one for free and purchase the others for as little as $5.
I work in an industrial area and don’t have a fancy office like Google, so I don’t have a beautiful park I can slumber in or a sleeping pod I can escape to, my only option is my car. My plan? After eating my lunch, I will go into my car, recline my seat, put on my binaural jams, start the shutdown process and enter the napping phase. Sounds easy enough, right?
Hmm… I do have some concerns, some of which you are probably thinking too. Firstly, the nature of my work involves clients, demanding clients. It will take a LOT of discipline to peel myself away from emails and switch my phone off to give myself this time to reset. The added challenge is trying to stop thinking about urgent tasks due that day. If it takes me a solid 3 days to stop thinking about work on holidays, will 30 mins daily be enough to reset? Studies have found that even if you can’t fall asleep, just laying down for a short time can lower blood pressure and relieve a small amount of stress. It’s enough to give it a go.
One of my other major concerns is the nap length, depending on whether I had a good night’s sleep or not, I don’t want to fall into a sleep state, because I will wake up more tired than I was to begin with.
I will need to test different nap lengths to see what duration is right for me. A research journal Sleep conducted a study on the benefits of naps and no naps. They found that a 10-minute nap produced the most benefit in terms of reduced sleepiness and improved cognitive performance. A nap lasting 30 minutes or longer increased risk of sleep inertia, which is the grogginess you sometimes feel after sleep, which is what I don’t want!
Seeing as I haven’t actually found a more feasible solution during my sleep research, I am going to attempt to integrate this into my daily routine as part of work/life balance. I’ll start with 30 mins and work back to smaller intervals if needed. I’ll report back in a week with my feedback and results- good and bad. Feel free to take this journey with me and share your experience in the comments below.
A few helpful tips…
- Ensure you are managing the extent of light filtering through to your eyes, so wear an eye mask if you are in a private. If you are in a park, place your hat or light towel over your eyes.
- Make sure you don’t nap too late in the afternoon as this may affect your night sleep patterns negatively.