What do Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill and Leonardo Da Vinci all have in common? They were big fans of the power nap. Judging by their accomplishments it is easy to see why researchers looked into the benefits of biphasic sleep. Basically that means having two sleep cycles in a 24 hour period. The power nap is not so much a several hour siesta as it is a twenty minute body “shut down” in the middle of the day. Even a short nap like that has shown in studies to help increase focus and spurn sharper memory recall.
Here’s what sleep scientists as the University of California Berkley discovered: Sleep deprivation (like the kind college students endure during all night cram sessions) actually decreases the brain’s ability to store knowledge by up to an alarming 40%. In other words, all that late night studying is actually counterproductive.
Just like you need to occasionally defrag your computer to make room for more memory storage, your brain needs sleep for the same purpose. Getting your eight hours overnight is perfect for extra storage but by the time high noon rolls around your “recycle bin” can stand for some clearing. The hippocampus portion of the brain is where memories are stored and this is where REM sleep is targeted.
Mid-afternoon Power Nap
A mid-afternoon nap sounds like fun but you’d be surprised as how many people consider this a chore or something silly. Just as with everything else in your work day, you should schedule your nap accordingly. Designate a block of 30 minutes. You’ll need at least ten minutes to doze off. Get yourself comfortable by dimming the lights, kicking off your shoes and recycling in a cozy spot. This doesn’t mean catching forty winks in a closet or some other unsafe place. And if some co-workers give you grief about shutting them out for a half an hour, remind them about all those other smart thinkers who did the very same thing. You might just start a new napping trend in the office.