Today is National Napping Day which seems fitting since most of us lost an hour of sleep this weekend due to the start of Daylight Saving Time (DST). As I was browsing through my news feeds this morning, I saw the story that someone, somewhere has designated today as an unofficial recognized day to take a nap.
William Anthony, Ph.D., a Boston University Professor and his wife, Camille Anthony, created National Napping Day in 1999 as an effort to spotlight the health benefits to catching up on quality sleep.
I like naps. I wasn’t too fond of them when I was a toddler but as I grew older I have developed a more positive attitude about taking an occasional nap.
Here are some interesting facts about naps:
- There are three types of nappers: habitual, planner and emergency. Habitual nappers follow the same pattern every day. Planners are those who plan to nap before they feel tired. Emergency people who do it immediately when they are tired.
- Naps are good for stress relief. It gives your brain a short timeout from activity.
- You don’t have to actually sleep to have a good nap. Just lying still with your eyes closed for 20 minutes provides you with some needed rest.
- There is an ideal nap time. The best nap time is in the middle of your wake cycle.
Did you know that there is even a National Siesta Championship in Madrid, Spain? Contestants compete to fall asleep as fast as possible in order to win a cash prize. Contestants are judged based on their ability to sleep as close to 20 minutes as possible and also the speed required for you to doze off, your snore and sleeping posture. It’s also held in the middle of a busy shopping mall so it isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Naps should be kept between 20-30 minutes. Any longer can disrupt your sleep cycle and could make you pretty grumpy.
Most Europeans, except the Germans, usually snooze or relax in the middle of the day. China, India, and parts of the Middle East are also big napping territories.
Humans are the only mammals who willingly delay sleep and plan naps.
A NASA study on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness by 100%.
While napping at work isn’t acceptable in the U.S., in Japan, dozing off in most jobs is acceptable, including in parliament and in businesses. Naps at work are called inemur, which means, “to be asleep while present.” Inemur is viewed as exhaustion from working hard and sacrificing sleep for the job. Many people even fake napping to look committed to their job.
Google headquarters has “nap pods” that block out both light and sound.
I would like to observe National Napping Day in some way today. The switch to Daylight Saving Time always gets me out-of-synch so any advantage – or excuse – to nap seems like a good idea. The challenge is finding a place to do it.