Slowly but surely, more and more high achievers are coming around to the idea that an afternoon nap can do a body (and a bottom line) good. But there are still enough doubters out there that haven’t yet jumped on the napping bandwagon. To help spread the power of the afternoon snooze, we got to the bottom of a few of the common myths about napping we still hear.
Napping is only for the lazy — or those under 5.
Around a third of American adults nap on the average day, LiveScience reported, and for good reason: A short snooze can boost everything from alertness and memory to creativity and productivity. And not a one of those perks sounds like laziness to us!
If I take a nap, I’ll only wake up feeling worse.
That groggy feeling after you wake up from a nap is real (it even has a name: sleep inertia) but it’s not a guarantee. How you feel after your snooze is probably a factor of how long you snoozed for. Experts generally agree that a nap should last no longer than 30 minutes. “If you take it longer than 30 minutes, you end up in deep sleep,” sleep expert Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., previously told HuffPost. Anyone who has ever felt worse upon rising from a nap is “sleeping too long,” he said. “You’re going into a stage of sleep that’s very difficult to get out of.” Next time you’re in the mood for a snooze, set your alarm for 20 to 30 minutes, tops.
You definitely shouldn’t nap at work.
Now, we don’t want anyone getting in trouble with the higher-ups, but in the right office environment, we’re all for catching a few winks during the workday. A handful of progressive companies have created special designated areas or rooms for afternoon naps as more and more employers come around to the idea that a well-rested workforce is a more productive workforce. If your office doesn’t offer a place to lay your head, try to find an empty conference room where you can close a door and dim the lights. Really desperate? Take a snooze on your lunch break on a park bench or in your car.
Coffee before a nap will keep me up.
Believe it or not, there is such a thing as a caffeine nap — affectionately referred to as the napalatte or nappuccino. To do it right, enjoy that cup of coffee or tea, and then take your nap. As you sleep, the caffeine will begin to kick in (it reaches peak effectiveness about 30 minutes after you drink it), so that when you wake, you’ll be feeling your most refreshed.
I’ll be more productive if I just finish this task, rather than waste time sleeping.
Yes, you’ll be away from your desk (or at least not aware of what’s going on there) if you take 10 to 30 minutes to snooze. But you’ll likely make up for that “wasted” time afterward. “My research shows that people deteriorate during the day,” sleep scientist Sara Mednick told Business Week. “It’s difficult to sustain productivity.” A nap can leave you feeling refreshed and more ready to tackle the task at hand — and your employer should thank you for it, considering drowsiness costs the U.S. an estimated $18 billion a year in lost productivity, according to a 2001 study.