Small changes make big differences.

Tuesdays with MOJO / Where is your favorite place to nap?

Marjorie Spitz RentoComment

Yesterday was national nap day.  Did you nap?

This wonderful unofficial sleep holiday was started in 1999 by Boston University Professor Dr. William Anthony to “encourage making naps a part of everyone’s lives to help them be healthy and productive.”

The “holiday” is strategically timed for the Monday after Daylight Savings as an opportunity to catch up on sleep after losing an hour from setting the clocks forward.  If you ever needed an excuse to nap, yesterday was your day!

Social media feeds went wild with hashtag #nationalnappingday trending worldwide on Twitter and Facebook, and photos of animals, people and even world leaders caught in the act.  Many cozied up and participated happily – napping is no longer for the lazy!   Margaret Thatcher, Winston Churchill and Albert Einstein were all nappers and credited the activity to improved focus.

A 2011 study from the Journal of Sleep estimates lack of sleep costs U.S. companies $63 billion in lost productivity.  Yikes!

In my Corporate Wellness work, many of our clients embrace and encourage napping by offering comfy wellness rooms.  And they’re not alone!  According to an Inc. article, “roughly 6 percent of employers have nap rooms onsite, a 1 percent increase from 2008.”  

Experts suggest napping has many benefits like improved concentration, boosts in productivity, increases in creativity and improved learning.

According to the NSA (National Sleep Foundation) naps can “restore alertness, enhance performance, and reduce mistakes and accidents.”  Think about truck drivers who drive for hours on end or shift workers – naps are critical!

In fact, according to a 2008 study, MRI scans have shown that brain activity remains higher in nappers all day compared to people who don't take a rest.

"Increasingly, companies are realizing that their employees' health is one of the most important predictors of the company's health," writes Arianna Huffington in her most recent book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder.  After collapsing from exhaustion at her desk one night (and breaking her cheekbone on the way down), she began pushing to make health and wellness in the workplace,” including nap rooms.

In addition, napping is shown to improve mood, reduce blood pressure, as well as decrease anxiety and depression due to minimizing levels of cortisol (the hormone that raises blood sugar). Improved sleep patterns can also result in weight loss.

According to author and fitness coach Craig Ballantyne, “the ‘Perfect Day’ 10-3-2-1-0 formula can help you sleep better, feel great in the morning and increase productivity at work.”

Just follow these steps:

  • 10 hours before bed: No more caffeine
  • 3 hours before bed: No more food or alcohol
  • 2 hours before bed: No more work
  • 1 hour before bed: No more screen time
  • 0: The number of times you hit the snooze button in the morning

Give it a try and see how you feel.

Now naps, of course, are not a substitute for a good night’s sleep.  

“If you have to stay awake for a prolonged period, you can mitigate that a little bit by taking some naps, but you can’t live your life like that,” Dr. Benca said, a professor of psychiatry and director of the Center for Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison stated in the NY Times. “Any sleep is better than no sleep, and more sleep is better than less sleep.”

And as I’ve recommended before, Dr. Andrew Weil’s 4-7-8 breathing technique  can help those with difficulty sleeping.

Truth be told, I’m not a great napper, so rely on breathing techniques like this to provide focus, energy and stress relief.

You can also try this space-agey portable power nap pod.

Either way, feel free to get your regular nap on. Take some photos and share!

Like a short burst of exercise or deep breathing, a brief nap could be a nice addition to your health routine.  Don’t be shy, go for it!   Where is your favorite nap place?

Nappily Yours,

Marjorie, Chief MOJO Maker™

P.S.  Check out this interesting infographic from the Wall Street Journal