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Last Updated on March 17, 2020

How to Power Nap for Maximum Benefits

How to Power Nap for Maximum Benefits

Most mammals—nearly 85%—are polyphasic, which means they sleep multiple times during the day. However, humans are monophasic, which means we sleep just once a day. But due to modern lifestyles and increasing levels of stress, sleep deprivation is a common sight.

A good night’s sleep plays an important role in your overall health and well-being as it keeps the immune system in good shape and heals the body.[1] But if your sleep gets disturbed due to work schedules or any other reason, it’s recommended that you make up the loss through power naps.

A power nap is an afternoon nap lasting anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes can help reduce stress and offset the adverse effects caused by sleep deprivation. Power nap is a term coined by James Mass, a social psychologist at Cornell University. It can recharge and revitalize you fairly quickly.

Different Types of Power Naps

Power naps can be broadly classified into four types:

  • Planned napping: As the name suggests, this refers to a nap that you have planned in advance—for instance, when you know you’re going to have a long night in the office, you take a quick power nap during the day to see you through the night. This is also called preemptive napping.
  • Emergency napping: When you are extremely sleepy and struggle to keep your eyes open, the nap you need is called emergency napping. This kind of napping is especially useful when you feel sleepy while driving.
  • Habitual napping: When you nap at a scheduled time of the day regularly, it is called habitual napping.
  • Appetitive napping: When you nap just for the fun of it.

Different People, Different Duration

From an ultra-short power nap lasting as little as six minutes to a more elaborate 90-minute nap, individuals have a range of power naps to choose from.

The six-minute power nap is known to improve declarative memory—a type of long-term memory—which is useful when trying to recall facts and knowledge. According to Sara C Mednick, a sleep expert and author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life, 15 to 20 minutes of power napping can provide you with incredible benefits including alertness and superior motor performance.

A 20-minute power nap is considered ideal to boost the brain and stave off mid-day sleepiness. However, longer naps—ranging between 30 and 60 minutes—are known to benefit memory and decision-making skills.

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Napping for 60-90 minutes –also called rapid eye movement (REM) sleep revitalizes the brain connections and enhances creativity.

Benefits of Power Napping

It is believed that a power nap not only helps you feel energetic but it also boosts memory and cognitive skills. No wonder, a number of organizations and universities around the globe are creating napping areas for their employees and students.

Improve Brain Performance

Power naps are especially useful in alleviating sleep deficit and improving verbal memory, perceptual learning, math, reasoning, and response time. Besides, power naps reduce stress, help keep the mood upbeat and fight fatigue. Power naps are also known to help the cause of weight management.

Aware of the benefits of power naps, companies are increasingly creating sleep spaces, where employees can unwind and catch a quick siesta. As for employees, they are becoming more aware of the benefits of napping and increasingly dumping the use of caffeine or energy drinks to keep them going at the workplace.

In fact, a study conducted in 2008 reveals that power naps fare far better than coffee in improving motor skills, perceptual learning, and verbal memory.[2]

The researchers made the participants nap for 60 to 90 minutes during the period of study. The study revealed that

“afternoon naps improved free recall memory compared to the caffeine group after both 20 minutes and seven hour intervals, while resulting in improved learning on physical tasks than caffeine.”

The study goes on to say that caffeine impairs motor sequence learning and declarative verbal memory, that are boosted by power naps.

Boost Energy

Good nappers wake up energized and alert and usually, prefer power naps over caffeine to restore their energy. Although caffeine or other energy drinks are known to increase energy levels, they do not help with the cognitive skills.

A study conducted in 1995 by NASA evaluated the benefits of napping on 747 participating pilots.[3] Each pilot in the nappers group napped for 40 minutes during the day, with an average sleep time of 28.5 minutes. Compared with the non-nappers, this group “demonstrated vigilance performance improvements from 16% in median reaction time to 34% in lapses.” Numerous subsequent studies have corroborated the findings of the NASA study that napping for just about the right duration increases alertness and productivity.

That said, not every individual needs a power nap to re-energize. It is important to understand why you need to nap. If you wish to take a nap only because you feel sleepy throughout the day, it may be an indication of stress, insomnia, or some other sleep disorder.

It completely depends on your genetic constitution whether you actually need a power nap or not. If you are not a good napper, you may actually wake up feeling worse because you may fall into a deep sleep during the nap.

Prevent Heart Diseases and Cancer

Yet another study conducted over a period of six years on nearly 24,000 healthy people (not suffering from coronary heart disease, stroke, or cancer) in 2007 in Greece revealed that all the participants who napped at least three times a week had a 37% lower chance of dying from a heart disease. This is because day-time power naps accelerate cardio-vascular recovery with a 45-minute nap helping lower the blood pressure—especially useful for people suffering from stress.

That’s not all, a letter published in the British Journal of Nutrition says power naps can help prevent obesity and weight maintenance.[4]

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Children Too Benefit from Napping

It is now well known that napping benefits people of all ages, but it is particularly beneficial for children. Generally, toddlers are biphasic—sleep twice a day. However, as they grow up, they become monophasic.

A study by Rebecca Spencer states that sleeping during the day is particularly effective in children as it helps boost their learning capabilities and enhances memory of the concepts learned earlier in the day.[5] She goes on to say that:

“distributed sleep is critical in early learning; when short-term memory stores are limited, memory consolidation must take place frequently.”

Therefore, children who do not take a nap during the day experience deficient performance that cannot be truly undone by night-time sleep alone. Nap-deprived children—aged between 1 and 3 years—often show poor problem solving skills and are more anxious.

Stigma

Although power naps are proved to bring numerous health benefits, until recently, it also had social stigmas associated with them.

Day-time nappers were often branded lazy with a lackadaisical attitude, and general sub-standard disposition. It was also believed that napping was the territory of children, elderly, and/or the sick. While numerous researches have been successful in busting these myths, there is still some level of education required about the benefits day-time power naps bring.

People who still feel power napping is a no-no, must know that Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, John F Kennedy, and even Leonardo da Vinci were all nappers—and successful.

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How to Have a Great Power Nap

The objective of a power nap is to re-energize and wake up as quickly as possible to maximize your productivity. Therefore, as with any good thing, to get the best out of your power nap, there are certain do’s and don’ts:

  1. Try to fall asleep as quickly as possible. Shut out any distractions that prevent you from falling asleep quickly.
  2. Keep your phone on silent mode to avoid disturbance from phone calls or messages.
  3. It’s a good idea to keep the nap short and quick in order to avoid waking up groggy. Consider setting an alarm for anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes.
  4. Dim the lights of the room you choose to take your nap in. Light on the eyes makes it difficult to fall asleep quickly. Consider using an eye mask to cut off the light.
  5. Cut off the surrounding noise for a peaceful nap. Consider wearing noise-reduction headphone or plug in your earphones.
  6. Usually during a quick snooze, the body temperature falls. Keep a blanket or sheet handy to keep yourself warm.
  7. If you are napping in your office, consider using the Do Not Disturb sign to let colleagues know you are snoozing.
  8. Drink a cup of coffee before your power nap. The nap will leave you refreshed and the effect of caffeine will give you the energy to be more productive.
  9. Get up and get back to whatever you were doing quickly. Consider splashing some water on your face, a brisk walk to let your body know that the nap is over.
  10. Be consistent with you nap schedules. This means choosing the same time during the day for your power nap—ideal time for a power nap is usually between 1pm and 3pm.

Final Thoughts

As we may see, numerous studies have firmly established the numerous benefits power naps have to your health. But, it is also important to note that it may not always be possible for people to nap.

For instance, people accustomed to sleeping only on their bed face trouble napping in the office. And then there are people who wake up groggy and disoriented after a nap, which can adversely impact their productivity in the office.

A nap too long can leave you in a condition where you can’t sleep at night. So, it becomes critical to understand your need for a power nap and the ideal duration that re-energizes and revitalizes you. After all, the end objective is to rejuvenate yourself.

Happy napping!

More Tips About Sleep and Productivity

Featured photo credit: Katya Austin via unsplash.com

Reference

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Bijal Panchal

Brand Planning: Managing Sleep Diagnostic, Sleep Therapy & Reusable Mask Portfolio

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Last Updated on September 30, 2020

Effective vs Efficient: What’s the Difference Regarding Productivity?

Effective vs Efficient: What’s the Difference Regarding Productivity?

When it comes to being effective vs efficient, there are a lot of similarities, and because of this, they’re often misused and misinterpreted, both in daily use and application.

Every business should look for new ways to improve employee effectiveness and efficiency to save time and energy in the long term. Just because a company or employee has one, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that the other is equally present.

Utilizing both an effective and efficient methodology in nearly any capacity of work and life will yield high levels of productivity, while a lack of it will lead to a lack of positive results.

Before we discuss the various nuances between the word effective and efficient and how they factor into productivity, let’s break things down with a definition of their terms.

Effective vs Efficient

Effective is defined as “producing a decided, decisive, or desired effect.” Meanwhile, the word “efficient ” is defined as “capable of producing desired results with little or no waste (as of time or materials).”[1]

A rather simple way of explaining the differences between the two would be to consider a light bulb. Say that your porch light burned out and you decided that you wanted to replace the incandescent light bulb outside with an LED one. Either light bulb would be effective in accomplishing the goal of providing you with light at night, but the LED one would use less energy and therefore be the more efficient choice.

Now, if you incorrectly set a timer for the light, and it was turned on throughout the entire day, then you would be wasting energy. While the bulb is still performing the task of creating light in an efficient manner, it’s on during the wrong time of day and therefore not effective.

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The effective way is focused on accomplishing the goal, while the efficient method is focused on the best way of accomplishing the goal.

Whether we’re talking about a method, employee, or business, the subject in question can be either effective or efficient, or, in rare instances, they can be both.

When it comes to effective vs efficient, the goal of achieving maximum productivity is going to be a combination where the subject is effective and as efficient as possible in doing so.

Effectiveness in Success and Productivity

Being effective vs efficient is all about doing something that brings about the desired intent or effect[2]. If a pest control company is hired to rid a building’s infestation, and they employ “method A” and successfully completed the job, they’ve been effective at achieving the task.

The task was performed correctly, to the extent that the pest control company did what they were hired to do. As for how efficient “method A” was in completing the task, that’s another story.

If the pest control company took longer than expected to complete the job and used more resources than needed, then their efficiency in completing the task wasn’t particularly good. The client may feel that even though the job was completed, the value in the service wasn’t up to par.

When assessing the effectiveness of any business strategy, it’s wise to ask certain questions before moving forward:

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  • Has a target solution to the problem been identified?
  • What is the ideal response time for achieving the goal?
  • Does the cost balance out with the benefit?

Looking at these questions, a leader should ask to what extent a method, tool, or resource meets the above criteria and achieve the desired effect. If the subject in question doesn’t hit any of these marks, then productivity will likely suffer.

Efficiency in Success and Productivity

Efficiency is going to account for the resources and materials used in relation to the value of achieving the desired effect. Money, people, inventory, and (perhaps most importantly) time, all factor into the equation.

When it comes to being effective vs efficient, efficiency can be measured in numerous ways[3]. In general, the business that uses fewer materials or that is able to save time is going to be more efficient and have an advantage over the competition. This is assuming that they’re also effective, of course.

Consider a sales team for example. Let’s say that a company’s sales team is tasked with making 100 calls a week and that the members of that team are hitting their goal each week without any struggle.

The members on the sales team are effective in hitting their goal. However, the question of efficiency comes into play when management looks at how many of those calls turn into solid connections and closed deals.

If less than 10 percent of those calls generate a connection, the productivity is relatively low because the efficiency is not adequately balancing out with the effect. Management can either keep the same strategy or take a new approach.

Perhaps they break up their sales team with certain members handling different parts of the sales process, or they explore a better way of connecting with their customers through a communications company.

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The goal is ultimately going to be finding the right balance, where they’re being efficient with the resources they have to maximize their sales goals without stretching themselves too thin. Finding this balance is often easier said than done, but it’s incredibly important for any business that is going to thrive.

Combining Efficiency and Effectiveness to Maximize Productivity

Being effective vs efficient works best if both are pulled together for the best results.

If a business is ineffective in accomplishing its overall goal, and the customer doesn’t feel that the service is equated with the cost, then efficiency becomes largely irrelevant. The business may be speedy and use minimal resources, but they struggle to be effective. This may put them at risk of going under.

It’s for this reason that it’s best to shoot for being effective first, and then work on bringing efficiency into practice.

Improving productivity starts with taking the initiative to look at how effective a company, employee, or method is through performance reviews. Leaders should make a point to regularly examine performance at all levels on a whole, and take into account the results that are being generated.

Businesses and employees often succumb to inefficiency because they don’t look for a better way, or they lack the proper tools to be effective in the most efficient manner possible.

Similar to improving a manager or employee’s level of effectiveness, regularly measuring the resources needed to obtain the desired effect will ensure that efficiency is being accounted for. This involves everything from keeping track of inventory and expenses, to how communication is handled within an organization.

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By putting in place a baseline value for key metrics and checking them once changes have been made, a company will have a much better idea of the results they’re generating.

It’s no doubt a step-by-step process. By making concentrated efforts, weakness can be identified and rectified sooner rather than later when the damage is already done.

Bottom Line

Understanding the differences between being effective vs efficient is key when it comes to maximizing productivity. It’s simply working smart so that the intended results are achieved in the best way possible. Finding the optimal balance should be the ultimate goal for employees and businesses:

  • Take the steps that result in meeting the solution.
  • Review the process and figure out how to do it better.
  • Repeat the process with what has been learned in a more efficient manner.

And just like that, effective and efficient productivity is maximized.

More on How to Improve Productivity

Featured photo credit: Tim van der Kuip via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: effective and efficient
[2] Mind Tools: Being Effective at Work
[3] Inc.: 8 Things Really Efficient People Do

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