Ever wondered whether there are any real benefits to daytime naps? Hoping that your urge to take a quick forty winks is a legitimate way to boost your wellbeing? Well, Laughologist, Sarah Helm, is here with some good news about the benefits of a midday snooze.
Temptations of daytime naps
It’s okay, we’ve all been there. In the midst of another busy day at work and with the rhythmic snoring of your dog, you suddenly get the irresistible urge to rest your head on the desk in front of you and take a quick nap. You’ll only be five minutes, honest… You wake an hour later with a start, your cheek gently cradled in a pool of your own dribble. Not your finest hour.
With a lot of us working from home, our sleep patterns are disrupted, draining our personal resources and energy faster than Harry and Meghan can cut their ties with the Royal family. The temptation of a daytime nap is, therefore, ever more attractive.
And let’s face it, when you’re working from home, the lure of the comfy sofa or even the bed in your makeshift office is literally calling out for you to snuggle up and close your eyes.
Benefits of daytime napping
So is napping in the day such a crime? Is it the final nail in the proverbial coffin as you crawl towards middle age?
Actually, no. In fact, a quick nap is often just what we need to recharge ourselves, enhance performance, foster creativity, reduce mistakes and make better decisions. A nap also positively improves your mood, benefitting your relationships with colleagues, customers and your friends and family. After all, nobody likes a sleep-deprived monster joining the team meeting.
The world of efficient napping is well-researched, yet it’s also vast and a little overwhelming. So in a bid to make things simpler for you and to give you sweeter dreams, here are a few ideas to keep in mind before you pull on your jim-jams and settle down for some shut-eye.
When should you nap?
Napping too late in the day could affect your ability to fall asleep at night. Try napping halfway between the time you wake up and when you plan to go to bed. For most of us this will probably fall somewhere between Home & Away and Judge Rinder.
According to world-renowned sleep researcher, Professor Matthew Walker, if you find yourself desperately fighting the urge to nod off during the morning, you need to take a look at your night-time sleep habits, as it’s a clear sign that you’re not getting enough. His bestselling book, ‘Why We Sleep’ is a great place to start.
How long should you nap for?
The Laughology team selflessly offered to experiment with nap times and found that naps of between 10-20 minutes were long enough to gain the benefits of a recharge and a reset.
Anything longer than 30 minutes and they started to fall into a deeper sleep cycle. This can make it hard to wake from, as well as making you feel rather discombobulated and at greater risk of turning up to your afternoon Zoom meeting in your bejewelled eye mask. Here’s looking at you, Dave Keeling.
Your aim is to wake feeling refreshed and raring to go - so much so that even another Zoom meeting couldn’t take the spring from your step. Who knows, maybe you’ll even add a cat filter...
Where should you nap?
We’d like to advise you to avoid napping during a Zoom call with your boss. And for obvious reasons, and in the interest of health and safety, avoid the loo cubicle or the kids’ playground. If you can, find somewhere comfortable, cool and dark.
According to The Sleep Charity, the perfect temperature for sleep is between 16-18 degrees celsius. And the darkness? Well, it helps your body to produce the hormone melatonin, which relaxes the body and helps you drift off.
But the one rule that you must abide to? Don’t take your daytime naps in a bed - it’s a way too comfy and our brain will associate it with tucking up for a full night’s sleep.
How can you get to sleep?
Not all of us can doze off at the sight of a powerpoint slide with 58 bullet points. If you’re not one to nod off easily, you might want to try out a simple breathing or relaxation exercise. And there are some excellent meditation apps available.
One such app, Calm, uses the speaker Tamara Levitt, whose definition of a job well done is people falling asleep: 150 million people have dozed off to her voice so far... and counting.
So let’s get the nation napping. For our health, our colleagues’ wellbeing and for a job well done.