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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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Animals
Fisherman Catches Rare Blue Lobster, Donates It to Science
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FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images

Live lobsters caught off the New England coast are typically brown, olive-green, or gray—which is why one New Hampshire fisherman was stunned when he snagged a blue one in mid-July.

As The Independent reports, Greg Ward, from Rye, New Hampshire, discovered the unusual lobster while examining his catch near the New Hampshire-Maine border. Ward initially thought the pale crustacean was an albino lobster, which some experts estimate to be a one-in-100-million discovery. However, a closer inspection revealed that the lobster's hard shell was blue and cream.

"This one was not all the way white and not all the way blue," Ward told The Portsmouth Herald. "I've never seen anything like it."

While not as rare as an albino lobster, blue lobsters are still a famously elusive catch: It's said that the odds of their occurrence are an estimated one in two million, although nobody knows the exact numbers.

Instead of eating the blue lobster, Ward decided to donate it to the Seacoast Science Center in Rye. There, it will be studied and displayed in a lobster tank with other unusually colored critters, including a second blue lobster, a bright orange lobster, and a calico-spotted lobster.

[h/t The Telegraph]

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Animals
Australian Scientists Discover First New Species of Sunfish in 125 Years
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Courtesy Murdoch University

Scientists have pinpointed a whole new species of the largest bony fish in the world, the massive sunfish, as we learned from Smithsonian magazine. It's the first new species of sunfish proposed in more than 125 years.

As the researchers report in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, the genetic differences between the newly named hoodwinker sunfish (Mola tecta) and its other sunfish brethren was confirmed by data on 27 different samples of the species collected over the course of three years. Since sunfish are so massive—the biggest can weigh as much as 5000 pounds—they pose a challenge to preserve and store, even for museums with large research collections. Lead author Marianne Nyegaard of Murdoch University in Australia traveled thousands of miles to find and collected genetic data on sunfish stranded on beaches. At one point, she was asked if she would be bringing her own crane to collect one.

Nyegaard also went back through scientific literature dating back to the 1500s, sorting through descriptions of sea monsters and mermen to see if any of the documentation sounded like observations of the hoodwinker. "We retraced the steps of early naturalists and taxonomists to understand how such a large fish could have evaded discovery all this time," she said in a press statement. "Overall, we felt science had been repeatedly tricked by this cheeky species, which is why we named it the 'hoodwinker.'"

Japanese researchers first detected genetic differences between previously known sunfish and a new, unknown species 10 years ago, and this confirms the existence of a whole different type from species like the Mola mola or Mola ramsayi.

Mola tecta looks a little different from other sunfish, with a more slender body. As it grows, it doesn't develop the protruding snout or bumps that other sunfish exhibit. Similarly to the others, though, it can reach a length of 8 feet or more. 

Based on the stomach contents of some of the specimens studied, the hoodwinker likely feeds on salps, a jellyfish-like creature that it probably chomps on (yes, sunfish have teeth) during deep dives. The species has been found near New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and southern Chile.

[h/t Smithsonian]

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