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As a self-proclaimed addict of self-improvement, I am always on the lookout for new studies, methods, or tools to help me reach my fullest potential (or at least just not feel like an unproductive zombie throughout the day). So when I came across an The Science of Success podcast, all about the importance of timing and the value of taking mental and physical breaks throughout the day, I was sold.
Among other things mentioned in the podcast—featuring When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing author Daniel Pink—the hosts stressed the importance of taking breaks throughout your day to foster better mental clarity and physical resurgence. Ergo, taking a walk a few times a day or making time to nap every day (if possible).
I've never been one to step away from a challenge, especially if it involves crawling into my bed every afternoon, so I decided to try out this whole napping phenomenon for a full week and see how it affected my day-to-day schedule, energy, and mental clarity. Spoiler Alert: It improved all of those. Here are the results I found after a week of taking naps, and why I'm never going back to a dreary napless lifestyle.
Improved Mental Clarity
At my full-time job, I usually work from about eight to four, so I chose to take my afternoon nap as soon as I returned home. It was the perfect time for me to release all of the work stress onto my mattress, and to awake, refreshed and ready to start the second half of my day. Though the first day I woke up feeling a bit sluggish, by the second and third day, napping warranted much more refreshing and, dare I say, energized feelings! I was more alert when doing some personal reading, watching a movie, or going out with friends later in the day. I wasn't dragging by seven o'clock anymore and I wasn't so brain dead that I couldn't complete a simple task at home. And what's better is that after the third day of napping, I felt a greater focus and clarity in the mornings following a full night's sleep. Having just 30 minutes in the middle of my day to reboot and recharge with a nap made my brain feel more activated and alert when I was awake. Job tasks were completed easier and interactions were less taxing. The fog in my mind had been lifted.
Now I'd like to say I'm all peaches and sunshine everyday, but honey, let's not kid ourselves. When I am tired, I turn into a terrible two-year-old toddler, so daily naps really were a game-changer for my overall mood. Having time to rest my head and let my mind rebalance every afternoon gave me a better sense of control over my emotions. I was less stressed, less defensive, and much more patient and understanding. And the one-two punch was that I could no longer use "I'm tired" as an excuse for ill-behavior or as an explanation for why I started ugly crying after I chipped my nail polish.
Lowered Caffeine Cravings
Working at an office with one of those über-fancy Nespresso machines has caused me to frequently go overboard with my caffeine intake, especially on days when I felt drained or fatigued. But after day four of Nap-a-polooza, I found myself less and less reliant on a double espresso shot in the morning to get me going. I reduced my caffeine intake by about 50 percent, only one coffee or green tea in the morning, and maybe another alongside my nap in the afternoon—if I felt like a needed a small pick-me-up. Pro Napping Tip: If you want to put your nap and energy on hyperdrive, have a cup of your preferred caffeine BEFORE you go down for your 25 to 30-minute power nap. Since caffeine takes about 25 minutes to do its magic, you will wake up from your nap feeling double refreshed and a heap more energized!
Before this week-long nap fest, I wouldn't have categorized myself as a highly creative person. But after giving my mind more time to rest and rejuvenate every afternoon, I found my creative senses heightened and more free-flowing throughout the whole day. In the evenings especially, I gained a boost in energy for more creative brainstorming and uncovered more ingenuitive solutions to little problems that stumped me before. My writing came easier, communication was more vibrant, and my interests expanded. Napping unlocked the modern artiste in me, making my days filled with more fun and imagination.
Better Sleep at Night
You heard it here: More sleep = better sleep (for me at least). During my week of building in nap breaks throughout my day, I found that when it was time for me to hit the hay for the long rest, I fell asleep much quicker and STAYED asleep much longer. I usually strive to get my seven to eight hours of sleep most nights, but I suffer from being a light sleeper, so little movements from my partner or cars zooming outside can sometimes interrupt my sleep—especially if I'm irritable or feeling unbalanced. But by resting a little bit in the afternoon, it allowed me to really stretch out my awake hours and be more active and productive throughout the day. And this increased activity, in turn, tuckered me out, leaving me beyond ready and receptive to a deep, long night's sleep. More sleep all around was a massive win for me.
Are you still thinking that you "don't have time" to nap during the day, or even worse, that "napping is a waste of time" for you? Just think about all the mental, physical, and emotional benefits that can come from letting your body rest and reboot throughout your day. Even if its just 15 to 20 minutes, carve out some time for a little shut-eye in your afternoon and see the amazing changes it will bring.
Ta-ta for now. It's time for my nap!