In a 2011 poll released by the National Sleep Foundation, researchers discovered that a huge number of individuals are using communications technology (phones, tablets, and other devices) before bed. But more shocking was the discovery that only 43 perfect of Americans reported rarely getting a good night sleep on weeknights.
In this same poll, around two-thirds of Americans stated that their sleep needs aren't being met. While 7.5 hours is the recommendation, the majority of people are getting six hours and 55 minutes.
The difference isn't noteworthy, but factor this up over the course of the year on a daily basis and that's a large sleep debt created.
Add this up over a population and it's an epidemic. These are the same people who have to go to work for various companies on a daily basis.
In another study, 29 percent of workers reported falling asleep or coming close to it while at work. According to a report from Sleep.org, a lack of sleep by itself is costing the U.S. $63 billion in lost productivity.
But a number of companies are attempting to help with this sleepy epidemic by allowing their employees to take naps and recharge.
Facebook and Google, in particular, have instituted nap rooms and energy pods.
While naps won't nearly come close to solving the sleep debt of individuals, it can help alleviate the afternoon lull that many encounter while also improving their well-being. The best thing about naps is that 20 minutes is more than enough to reap the benefits.
Here are five reasons to consider daily power naps:
1. Improved focus and alertness.
A nap of up to 20 minutes can help counter the natural midday afternoon slump. This happens due to a circadian dip, but the power nap helps offset that while boosting your focus and alertness for the rest of the workday.
Naps are also beneficial to improving your reasoning and reaction timing for various daily tasks.
2. Improved learning and working memory.
Napping isn't going to make you the next Einstein, but it can help improve your memory and problem-solving skills.
This happens due to improvements in your ability to retrieve information from your memory bank. Your hippocampus is the area of the brain responsible for putting your memories into long-term storage, where you can call on them when needed.
3. Burnout prevention.
Building your business and managing your team while juggling different aspects of your personal life can lead many to burnout and exhaustion. When you've reached that stage, it's harder to sleep, which only makes the issues worse.
But taking regular naps prevents you from reaching burnout in the first place.
4. Increased creativity.
Many of the greatest artists, inventors, and entrepreneurs made napping a daily habit. As we've heard numerous times, the right side of the brain is associated with creativity and imagination, while the left side is associated with logic and reasoning.
In a 2012 study presented at a neuroscience event, results showed that napping increased right brain activity while the left brain was mostly inactive.
Napping allows your brain to create loose associations for creative ideas and opens the pathway for new ideas.
5. Money saved.
Being sleep deprived is a proven recipe for poorer decision making, higher likelihood of error, decreased overall productivity, and a higher incidence of health issues.
But power naps help mitigate those potential productivity issues and health expenses because you're taking control of your well-being.
Also, when you're more productive and mentally sharp, your quality of work improves, along with the higher likelihood of making more money.
Napping isn't a cure for the sleep debts created by a lack of actual sleep at night. But a power nap can help to refresh your mind while increasing your energy.