This may come as a bit of welcome research that gives us more reasons to find some downtime during the middle of the day. In an article by Colin Fernandez, Science Correspondent for the Daily Mail, writes “A study found that taking naps of less than 30 minutes improves our sense of well-being, as well as boosting performance.” Perfect! I don’t always find it necessary to justify my naps, because at times I feel like I absolutely need them. But, at other times, there is that guilty conscience that creeps in and makes that “fear of missing out” feeling appear. It’s the fear that I could be chip away at these e-mails that are stacking up. I could be getting smarter by reading the accumulating books on my nightstand. I could hit a quick workout. Or, what if I just want to play on my phone for half an hour before I pick the kids up from school It’s my time! Truth is, there are a million things that I could be doing and like a lot of folks, I am very deliberate with my time and value those half-hours of freedom.
It never fails that when I kick off my shoes, get horizontal on a couch, set a twenty minute timer and just let my mind go blank, that I feel so refreshed when my “Slow Rise” alarm goes off. It’s not only a mental refresher, but a physical reset, as well. For some reason, my blood sugar feels under better control, and my thoughts become very clear. According to the article, Professor Richard Wiseman, of the University of Hertfordshire, said: ‘Previous research has shown that naps of under 30 minutes make you more focused, productive and creative, and these new findings suggest … that you can also become happier by just taking a short nap.’ That would describe my situation perfectly.
I had noticed through years of “experimentation” that the 30 minute threshold was one of which to beware. It always seemed that anything over 30 and moving towards the 40-45 minute window left me in far worse shape than when I entered the nap. If you hit the 45 minute mark, you are about halfway through a sleep cycle, and entering into your deepest sleep phase. Waking up at this point, the study “found that those who took longer naps were less happy than those who did not nap at all.” You know the feeling. Groggy, lethargic, sloth-ish, awful. And even more dangerous is the 1 hour mark, as “frequent hour-long naps are associated with an 82 per cent increase in the risk of heart disease.”
So, if you are at plugging through your day and starting to get that familiar sandbags-in-your-body feeling, do yourself a favor; find a place to rest your head, set a 20 minute timer, close your eyes, succumb to the moment, and indulge in a short nap. Most likely (66% of study participants found themselves happier after a less than 30 minute nap), you will find yourself in a better place mentally and more equipped to continue your day with vigor.