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Study: Daytime naps improve cognitive function

By Lee Cleveland - July 13, 2023

In today’s fast-paced world, where productivity and efficiency are highly valued, the idea of taking a nap during work hours may seem counterintuitive. However, recent studies have revealed that embracing short naps, or power naps, can have a profound impact on work productivity, creativity, and memory.

While the stigma against daytime sleep persists, the evidence demonstrating the measurable benefits of napping is hard to ignore.

The Science Behind Napping
Numerous scientific studies have explored the relationship between napping and cognitive function. One notable study conducted by researchers in the British Biobank survey examined data from over 35,000 participants. Surprisingly, they found that individuals who regularly took afternoon naps exhibited larger brain volumes. This discovery challenges the assumption that napping is a sign of laziness or lack of ambition.

As we age, our brains naturally shrink. However, habitual nappers enjoy a unique advantage, as their brain size is sufficient to counteract up to 6.5 years of aging.

Historical figures such as Aristotle, Leonardo da Vinci, and even prominent leaders like Margaret Thatcher, John F. Kennedy, and Bill Clinton have all acknowledged the benefits of incorporating naps into their daily routines.

The Growing Acceptance of Workplace Napping
Recognizing the positive impact of napping on employee well-being and productivity, progressive companies are embracing the concept of workplace naps.

Notable organizations like Ben and Jerry’s, Nike, and Google have introduced initiatives that allow their employees to take daytime snoozes. The British National Health Service has gone a step further by installing sleep pods for hospital staff facing long, grueling shifts.

Renowned entrepreneur Arianna Huffington, co-founder of HuffPost and CEO of Thrive Global, is a vocal advocate for workplace napping. She emphasizes the importance of well-rested employees and their direct correlation to improved productivity. Via The Guardian, Huffington stated, “Given the latest science on the effectiveness of napping and the clear link between employees feeling well-rested and their productivity, it’s long past time that businesses embrace short naps at work.”

The Benefits of Napping for Cognitive Function
Numerous research reports spanning nearly two decades have consistently highlighted the positive effects of afternoon naps on cognitive performance. A comprehensive meta-analysis of 54 studies conducted between 2002 and 2020 found that afternoon naps offer a small to medium benefit across multiple cognitive tests. Memory, attention span, problem-solving abilities, planning skills, self-awareness, and emotional regulation were among the cognitive functions that significantly improved through napping.

Furthermore, athletes stand to gain even more from incorporating daytime naps into their routines. Researchers in Spain, where the siesta tradition originated, discovered that a nap lasting between 30 and 60 minutes has a moderate-to-high effect on both cognitive and physical performance. This finding indicates that athletes can enhance their overall capabilities by taking strategic naps during the day.

Napping Done Right
While napping provides numerous advantages, it’s essential to approach it correctly to maximize its benefits. Experts advise against taking excessively long naps, as they can result in grogginess and interfere with productivity.

To ensure optimal napping, it’s worth noting the techniques employed by famous nappers like Albert Einstein.

The brilliant scientist would sleep in a chair while holding a spoon. When he entered a deep sleep state, his hand would relax, causing the spoon to drop and wake him up. This technique prevented him from oversleeping and allowed him to harness the benefits of a power nap effectively.

Embracing Napping for Improved Work Performance
In a society plagued by sleep deprivation, it’s important to recognize the detrimental effects it can have on our daily lives. Sleep deprivation increases the risk of workplace accidents, diminishes creativity and concentration levels, and amplifies irritability. Dr. Sara Mednick of the University of California, Irvine, states, “We are a sleep-deprived people, which makes us more prone to accidents at work, lower levels of creativity and concentration, and higher levels of irritability.”

Given these risks, it’s clear that prioritizing rest and embracing short naps in the workplace can lead to significant improvements in overall productivity and employee well-being. Forward-thinking companies understand the importance of fostering an environment that supports and encourages adequate rest to unlock the full potential of their workforce.

Unlocking the Potential of Napping: A Path to Success
Incorporating napping into our daily routines has the potential to revolutionize the way we work and live. By recognizing and embracing the scientifically proven benefits of napping, we can unlock our full cognitive potential and achieve greater success in our personal and professional endeavors.

As we have seen throughout history, prominent figures from various fields, including politics, science, and entrepreneurship, have acknowledged the power of napping in boosting creativity, problem-solving abilities, and overall performance. Now, it’s time for businesses and individuals alike to adopt a progressive mindset and prioritize rest as a key component of productivity.

In conclusion, the negative perception surrounding daytime napping is slowly shifting as scientific research highlights the numerous benefits it offers. From enhanced cognitive function and creativity to improved memory and overall well-being, incorporating power naps into our daily routines can yield remarkable results. Forward-thinking companies and individuals who prioritize rest and embrace workplace napping are poised to reap the rewards of increased productivity, innovation, and success.

So, next time you find yourself feeling drowsy during the workday, don’t hesitate to find a quiet corner or designated nap space. Embrace the power of napping and witness firsthand how it can transform your performance and elevate your journey toward achieving your goals.

Zzzzzzzzz …