A quick review of the recent research makes it instantly clear that naps are basically a wonder cure for pretty much any productivity problem you can think of. They boost performance, improve memory, reduce stress, increase creativity, and even make you kinder.
But if the science of naps couldn't be more clear cut, why do so few adults find time for a quick afternoon snooze? Logistical hurdles are clearly a huge problem for many. Finding a boss that approves and a quiet corner to rest your head is an impossible challenge in many workplaces. But even entrepreneurs who set their own schedules and write their own rules often fail to nap when their bodies are calling out for a bit of extra rest.
Why is that? Christopher Lindholst, CEO of nap pods company MetroNaps, says this resistance often comes down to a few common but entirely false beliefs about napping that he's encountered again and again. He recently outlined these common myths in an email to Inc.com
1. "I don't have time to nap."
"But, you do have time to go to the coffee shop around the corner, get a sugary snack at the vending machine on the 5th floor (but you just had lunch?), surf the web, and catch up on social media as you stave off fatigue. During a good chunk of the afternoon, you probably catch yourself in a quick micro-sleep or two as your eyes glaze over in front of your computer. You definitely have time for all those things, but not a 15-minute nap that will boost your alertness and contribute to your long-term health," he writes, incredulously.
Instead of making excuses about your busy schedule, "nap when fatigue strikes. Do it three times a week if you want the long-term health benefits," Lindholst recommends.
2. "I am not a napper."
Maybe not, but that doesn't mean you have some weird physical quirk that makes you less in need of rest. You're probably just in denial about your body's cues. "We all experience dips in alertness and productivity related to our circadian (daily) rhythm. There is a scientific consensus that naps can boost your mood, creativity, and work performance, among other things," he claims.
So what should you do if you're one of those people who struggle to drift off in the afternoons even when you're tired? "Use music to relax. Audio guided relaxation tracks, like those from Pzizz, can help clear your mind," Lindholst recommends. Also, "remove your shoes and put your feet up. This reduces the workload on your cardiac system and makes it easier for your body to relax."
3. "I won't wake up if I take a nap."
Lindholst has a simple reply to this one: "Yes, you will: Use an alarm clock so you don't 'over-nap.'" He adds that "if you think that an alarm clock can't rouse you, you might be suffering from a sleep deficit and therefore need more naps."
For the maximum energy boost with the minimum post-nap grogginess, keep your naps to under 20 minutes so you avoid deep sleep.
4. "A nap will affect my nighttime sleep."
"This's the myth I hear the most often," Lindholst reports, but "it is highly likely (like 90 percent) that it doesn't apply to you. Sleep doctors advise people with chronic insomnia (about 10 percent of the population according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine) to avoid naps, but for everyone else, there's nothing to worry about."
Still, he notes that you should follow sound nap protocol. That means no naps after five (unless you're planning to be up super late, in which case enjoy that disco nap!) and sticking to short naps of 15-20 minutes.
5. "Napping is for lazy people."
False again. "The need to nap doesn't make you lazy--it makes you human," insists Lindholst, who suggests you remind yourself that "some of the most influential people in history openly proclaimed the importance of napping. Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill, and Albert Einstein, among others, were all famous nappers."
Finally, he notes "that naps have been proven to boost alertness and creativity," asking, "since when has being productive and coming up with good ideas been a sign of laziness?"
If you're not a napper, why don't you snooze when you feel the urge?