Catnapping – A Healthy Lifestyle
Whoever said, “Snooze, You lose,” was wrong. Bill Anthony, a professor at Boston University in his book, The Art of Napping gives numerous reasons why the opposite is true. Anthony observes that, napping makes people feel better, doesn’t cost any thing, is a no-sweat activity and has no dangerous side effects.
Researchers estimate that sleepy people are responsible for up to 90 percent of industrial accidents. Lack of sleep has been sited as a factor in the Exxon Valdez and Chernobyl disasters. In addition research reveals sleepy drivers cause nearly as many car crashes as drunk drivers.
Believed to have originated in the Southern region of Alentejo, in Portugal a traditional midday siesta was adopted by the Spanish and, through European influence, by Latin American countries and the Philippines. Afternoon sleep is also a common habit in China, India, Italy (“reposo” in Italian), Greece, The Middle East and North Africa. In these countries, the heat can be unbearable in the early afternoon, making a midday break in the comfort of one’s home ideal. However, in some countries where naps are taken, such as Northern Spain, Southern Argentina, and Chile, the climate is similar to that of Canada and Northern Europe.
Studies have suggested a biological need for afternoon naps. The body is on a 24-hour body clock, which makes you wind down between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. and again in the three hours directly after lunch. Researchers found that subjects of the studies felt that it was easiest to fall asleep at night and in the afternoon.
In some individuals, postprandial dip, a brief drop in blood glucose levels caused by the body’s normal insulin response to a heavy meal, may produce drowsiness after the meal that can encourage a nap.
Statistics on sleepy Americans:
o 71%: Sleep less than 8 hours per night
o 40%: Americans over 65 have disturbed sleep
o $15.90 billion spent annually on sleep problems
o 4-9%: Adult males have sleep apnea
o 40%: Snore and are unaware of it and the adverse effects
o 15%: Sleep walk, which disrupts sleep
If napping is good, why has it gotten such a bad rap? Why is it stigmatized as frivolous, shows lack of drive or being non-productive? Anthony says to simply look at the terminology, such as ‘going down for a nap’ or ‘caught napping,’ people have been conditioned to believe napping is unimportant or at worst a ‘guilty pleasure.’ However, research reveals if you nap, you are more productive.
“Napping is a simple pleasure that makes you more productive,” says Hoyt Harper, Starwood Hotels and Resorts senior vice president. Starwood’s Four Points by Sheraton brand has promoted napping by including information on the subject in the key cards that it hands out to all guests.
Anthony reveals many celebrities take naps including: Jim Lehrer, the host, The NewsHour, snoozes in his office for an hour every day. “It’s the only good habit I’ve ever had,” Lehrer states empathically. Winston Churchill, John Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Salvado Dali, Leonardo daVinci, Johannes Brahms, Napoleon, Ronald Reagan, Thomas Edison and former President, George Washington frequently took naps.
The significant story, however, is not about celebrity figures, who seemingly have the luxury of taking a nap, but how modern employees have awakened to taking naps–even on the job.
“Transportation companies such as railroads, airlines and trucking firms are the leaders,” says Anthony, whose other book–co-authored by his wife, Camille–is called, The Art of Napping at Work.
Yarde Metals in Southington, Connecticut leads the pack. In 2000, Yarde Metals established celebrating National Napping Day by hosting Napapalooza, an event complete with soothing music, a tent filled with hay, and a sleep inducing turkey dinner.
Research reveals that eight hours of sleep is the amount most adults need per night. However, the National Sleep Foundation reports in its 2005 Sleep in America Poll that adults are sleeping only 6.8 hours a night on weekdays and 7.4 hours a night on weekends.
National Sleep Foundation Tips to create good sleep:
o Avoid caffeine for six hours before bedtime
o Abstain from alcohol
o Exercise regularly
o Establish a relaxing bedtime routine–such as: taking a bath, associate bed with sleep–avoid watching TV in bed.
o Listen to soothing music on CD
A catnap–a.k.a. power nap–is a short nap, usually 15-20 minutes, coined by Cornell University social psychologist James Maas. It is thought by many to maximize the benefits of sleep versus time. This type of sleep pattern may be associated with polyphasic sleep; however, it is more often used to supplement normal sleep, especially when the sleeper has accumulated a sleep deficit.
Sleep Research Society reveals that a 10-minute nap yields the most benefits.
People who regularly take catnaps usually have a good idea of what duration works best for them. Some people take catnaps out of necessity. For example, someone who doesn’t get enough sleep at night and is drowsy at work may sleep during his/her lunch break. Others may prefer to regularly take catnaps even if their schedule allows a full night’s sleep. Importantly, napping skills are trainable and have been shown to become more efficient with regular catnaps versus sporadic catnaps.