Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Wake Up to Napping Science; A Carefully Taken Snooze during the Day Can Be Beneficial to Health and Productivity

Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Wake Up to Napping Science; A Carefully Taken Snooze during the Day Can Be Beneficial to Health and Productivity

Article excerpt

Byline: Gemma Paech Postdoctoral research fellow, Washington State University

CATNAP, kip, snooze, siesta; whatever you call naps, there is no doubt these once frowned-upon short sleeps are gaining acceptance.

The increase in popularity is not surprising, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US finding around a third of American adults do not get the recommended seven hours sleep each night.

Insufficient sleep not only affects our overall performance, but can affect physiological functions such as changes to hormones, metabolic factors and immunity.

From a business perspective, insufficient sleep can translate into lost profits due to decreased worker productivity. This has led companies such as Google, Nike and Ben & Jerry's to encourage or allow napping at work, providing employees with napping facilities such as napping pods and quiet rooms in which they can nap if desired.

The pros and cons

Naps have been shown to be effective in reducing and minimising some of the negative effects of insufficient sleep. For example, compared to when no nap is taken, naps have been shown to effectively reduce feelings of sleepiness and improve cognitive performance on tasks such as reaction time and vigilance. Naps may also help to improve short-term memory and overall mood.

Moreover, these improvements can last for a few hours after the nap has ended. Naps may also offer longer lasting improvements in cognitive performance and reduced sleepiness than other commonly used countermeasures of sleepiness such as caffeine.

But as with everything, there are downsides too. Although naps are associated with performance improvements and reduced sleepiness, these benefits may not be immediate. Naps can be associated with a period of sleep inertia, which is the feeling of grogginess most people experience immediately after waking. …

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