Not many people sleep enough. While for some being able to say that they are so important that they have to work 18 or 20 hours a day is a macho badge of honour, the evidence is now clear that sleep deprivation contributes significantly to poor health, many car accidents and fatalities, and poor workplace performance.
The answer: take a nap.
While naps aren’t for everyone, I’ve long been a believer in the restorative powers of a 20-minute afternoon nap, aka “siesta”.
And I’m hardly alone. World leaders such as Winston Churchill, Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan, John Kennedy and Bill Clinton were nappers. Most NBA players take an afternoon nap. Then assistant NBA commission Adam Silver said in 2011, “Everyone in the league office knows not to call players at 3 p.m. It’s the player nap.”
People’s preferences for the length of naps varies. While I like those 20-minute naps, Salvador Dali was a big believer in one-second naps – he would fall asleep in a chair with a key or spoon between his fingers and was immediately awoken when it would fall to the ground! Some of those world leaders went in for naps that were more in the 90-minute range.
Aside from being a method for making up for insufficient sleep during the night, there’s a biological reason why an early afternoon nap makes sense: it’s when our body’s circadian rhythm is at a low point. So even with enough sleep during the night, we’re less likely to be as productive at that time.
Sleep is when our mind processes what we’ve been doing, adds it to long-term memory and synthesizes new learning with what we knew before. The results can be immediate, as HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan notes:
“I’m a huge nap guy, and so we have a nap room at HubSpot [pictured above]. I have this new initiative in my life, and I’m trying to push my colleagues to do it, too, where I want to work less and think more. In a given month, I do a lot of very mediocre stuff, but once in a while I come up with a really good idea. Maybe I’ll come up with two in a month. Those two inevitably happen when I’m either falling into a nap, or coming out of a nap, or waking up slowly on a Saturday morning. I’m trying to engineer more of those in my life. I’m trying to encourage more people to have naps because, hopefully, more people will have these brilliant ideas.”
And HubSpot is hardly alone in this. More and more companies, including Google, P&G and the Huffington Post, are now providing employees with nap rooms or nap pods because they have realized that a rested, fresh employee is far more valuable than a drowsy one.
After falling sleep at her desk from exhaustion and actually causing herself some physical injuries, Arianna Huffington has made getting enough sleep and napping something of a personal cause. She suggests that, rather than working themselves to the point of exhaustion, as she did, women should “sleep our way to the top, literally.”
“What is good for us on a personal level, what’s going to bring more joy, gratitude and effectiveness in our lives, also be the best for our own careers, is also what’s best for the world.
So, I urge you to shut your eyes and discover the great ideas that lie within us. To shut your engines and discover the power of sleep.”
Source - Louis Gudema - Linkedin