Take time out to honor the nap
MIAMI — Jim Angleton’s work day begins before dawn, so when his eyes get droopy by midafternoon, he just leans back at his desk and takes a nap.
“If I feel tired, my body is trying to tell me something, so I will excuse myself, shut the door, sometimes put headphones on and listen to music, and just put my head back and disconnect,” said Angleton, 56, who owns a Miami Lakes financial services company.
Are you yawning yet?
Go for it: Monday is Napping Day, an unofficial holiday created in 1999 by now-retired Boston University professor William Anthony and his wife, Camille, to help people adjust to Daylight Saving Time.
After losing an hour of sleep by setting clocks forward, many in the workforce will drag through the day on Monday; hence the need for a power nap.
“You get refreshed, you get re-energized and you get de-stressed,” Angleton said. “I highly recommend it if you can get away with it. It’s got to be good for the soul.”
Everyone needs to sleep. Newborns require as much as 18 hours a day; adults, as a general rule, seven to nine hours, the National Sleep Foundation says.
“Sleep is essential for your overall wellbeing, quality of life, for your mood, for your growth, and also for the prevention of diseases, because the lack of sleep can trigger inflammatory response in your body and can make you more susceptible to infection,” said Dr. Alexandre Abreu, co-director of the UHealth Sleep Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
Naps can help, as long as they do not interfere with your nighttime sleep — creating a vicious cycle, he said.
One-third of adults take regular naps, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center. And more men (38 percent) reported napping than women (31 percent).
The habit may start at an early age: preschoolers are accustomed to grabbing their blankets and going to sleep. It’s also a cultural phenomenon. In many European and Latin American cultures, a siesta after lunch is still an important part of the daily schedule.
While naps do not necessarily make up for inadequate or poor-quality nighttime sleep, a short nap of 20 to 30 minutes can help improve mood, alertness and performance, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Depending on your job, it may even be critical. A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34 percent and alertness by 100 percent.
And another study, in the October 2012 issue of Academic Medicine, found that among first-year internal medicine residents, a short midday nap improved alertness and cognitive functioning.
Yet, by and large, U.S. employers frown upon workers who try to nap on the job.
Not C1 Bank’s chief executive, Trevor Burgess. As a napping proponent, he encourages it.
At least once a week, he and about a dozen drowsy employees, or nearly 15 percent of his staff of 85, take turns resting in an “EnergyPod” that he bought in October for his bank’s new St. Petersburg, Fla., headquarters.
“Even if you don’t fall asleep — in the 20 minutes, the meditation that takes place is pretty powerful, and you’re ready to face whatever your day holds,” Burgess said.
He sees offering a napping option as an important part of the overall work-life-balance, especially for members of the millennial generation who want to work when and where they want.
“It’s definitely the most talked about element in the space,” Burgess said of the pod, which was created by MetroNaps of New York.
Designed to engulf the napper, the pod reclines and has a timer that awakens you with a combination of lights, vibration and music, and automatically puts you back in a seated position, said MetroNaps chief executive Christopher Lindholst. In Florida, St. Leo University and Florida Hospital Celebration Health have also bought the pods, which cost $9,000 to $12,000.
Naps are not right for everyone. Nap for too long, and you might be groggy instead of refreshed. Daytime sleeping could lead to insomnia. And if you already have trouble sleeping at night, a nap may only exacerbate the problem, said Abreu, the UM sleep doctor.
In fact, the need for a nap may be a sign of a disorder, like disruptive sleep apnea or narcolepsy, he said.
“Take naps because it’s cultural, as long as it doesn’t interrupt nighttime sleep, or because you have poor sleep and need to perform at driving or work, so you’re protecting yourself and others from your sleepiness,” he advises.