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How to Nap Your Way to Success

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Sneaking in a nap at work is no longer just for security guards in heist movies. Dr. Lisa Shives of Northshore Sleep Medicine in Evanston, Ill. has helped more than 4,000 patients with their sleep problems. Here’s why she thinks your boss should thank you for snoozing at your desk.

Fight the Stigma

Although naps are associated with loafing, a short and dedicated period of rest may actually improve a worker’s productivity over the long haul. “The notion of the power nap is a good one,” Dr. Shives says. “People are coming to think of it as an energy-boosting activity rather than one of laziness.” Go ahead and put those pajamas on your expense account.

Keep It Short

“There’s some good research showing that people function better after shorter naps,” Shives explains. “A 10-minute nap, really, is best. When people nap only 10 minutes, they score better on cognitive tests. As you lengthen the nap time, those scores go down. When you get beyond 30 minutes, it’s worse than if you hadn’t slept at all!”

Time Your Z’s

Knowing when to nap is crucial. All people have a “circadian dip,” an hour or two during the day when their energy bottoms out. “If you get in touch with your body, you should begin to get a sense of when you’re hitting that low,” Shives explains. She suggests tracking your energy levels for a few days and making the nadir nap time.

Gear Up!

Take your snooze as seriously as you would a work assignment. “If you’re grabbing a nap at the office, bring one of those neck pillows with you,” Shives says. “And bring the little eye mask too. Light is the number one most powerful stimulator of your body. It tells you when to sleep and when to wake up.”

Hug Your Mug

While Shives is a huge fan of sleep, she’s also an advocate of caffeine. “I see a lot of patients who ask me for a prescription to wake them up. I say, ‘How much coffee do you drink?’ and they say, ‘I cut all that stuff out.’ I always laugh at that. You’re asking me for a pharmaceutical and you’re not even drinking coffee?”

This article appears in the current issue of mental_floss magazine. Subscribe right now or download a free issue for your tablet.

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