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Last Updated on December 17, 2020

A 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

A 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day
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Everyone experiences tiredness at work sometimes. At some point (usually around 2:00 PM), you find yourself ready for a nap. Your energy fluctuates naturally throughout the day.

Productivity expert Chris Bailey charted his motivation, focus, and energy levels for 21 days and found that all three tend to spike between 7:00 and 8:00 AM, 11:00 AM and 12:00 PM, and 6:00 and 7:00 PM.[1] For all those highs, he also noticed times when focus, energy, and motivation were nowhere to be found. Chris was tired at work.

Your peak productivity times may be different than Mr. Bailey’s, but the overall shape of your energetic graph would still look like a series of zigzags. The amount of sleep you have, the food you eat, and how you exercise are a few of the factors that cause rises and falls in your energy level.

You’re battling your biology when you don’t take a nap

We can fill up on caffeine and sugar as much as we want, but we’re fighting a natural downturn in energy when we do this. Most people feel fatigued in the latter half of the standard workday. Your tiredness may seem like an inconvenience, but it’s really your body telling you that it needs rest.

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Our bodies operate on a natural clock called a circadian rhythm.[2] This sleep/wake cycle is perfectly adapted to give us adequate sleep over the course of a 24-hour period. Natural light is the primary means that your body uses to assess whether or not you should be asleep.

Much to our collective chagrin, circadian rhythms do not coincide with the average 9 to 5 job. Irregular sleep schedules, the light from electronic devices, and natural light exposure can also affect the cycle. This is why people working the graveyard shift have an increased risk for developing health problems.[3] They must remain awake when their body tells them it’s time for bed, and their sleep schedule is constantly disrupted when they try to stay awake on days off.

Neglecting to follow your circadian rhythms and not taking a nap go against your body’s natural balance.

Taking a nap is natural

We usually feel the most tired between 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM. This is the post-lunch crash that most of us try to fend off with sugary snacks or espressos. We’re also naturally more inclined to sleep between 2:00 AM and 4:00 AM, which is why waking someone up during that time can feel like raising the dead.

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Since most of us are already asleep between 2:00 AM and 4:00 AM, we need only concern ourselves with the post-lunch crash. Taking a nap right after lunch helps most people feel more alert, energized, and motivated.

Why you should squeeze a nap into your day

Taking a nap can replenish your brainpower and leave you feeling just as sharp as you were first thing in the morning. You can’t change the fact that your body operates on a circadian rhythm and your energy level rises and falls, but you can pay attention to what your body tells you to do. If you want to feel energized, you need to recharge.

When you don’t take a nap, you struggle against your body’s need for sleep. You may look busy while you’re sitting at your desk, but the simplest tasks will take you much longer to complete. You’ll have a harder time making decisions, and you’ll likely feel a bit grumpy.

Taking a nap may put you out of commission for 20 minutes, but you’ll be refreshed when you wake up. You’ll be able to do more work in a shorter amount of time, and you’ll probably have a better outlook on the rest of your day. That nap is the reset button that you need to do your best work.

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You can reap amazing benefits from taking a 15-20 minute nap.[4] Longer naps put you into different phases of your sleep cycle, and if those are disrupted, you might end up feeling more tired. A nap of 20 minutes is all you need.

The catnap is a low-cost energy booster. It requires so little energy and effort to give yourself this time to refuel, and the return on investment is huge. Some studies suggest that a 20-minute nap has the energy-boosting equivalent of more than 200 mg of caffeine, or two cups of regular coffee (minus the jitters). A power-nap has the potential to add an extra three hours of productivity to your day.

My napping experience at work for the last 2 weeks

Just to be clear, I’m not advocating that you bring your sleeping bag and grab a little shuteye anytime you feel lethargic. That’s definitely not going to go over well with your boss. You won’t be napping the entire afternoon away on the clock. You just need to take a 20 minute break after lunch to do what I’ve been doing.

For the last two weeks, I’ve been taking 20-minute naps in my office after lunch. I silence my email notifications and set an alarm so that I wake up at the end of the 20-minute window. I put in my ear buds and listen to this relaxing playlist. I rest on the couch with a small cushion that I keep stashed in my desk.

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At first it felt weird to be taking a nap at the office. It took me about 5 minutes to fall asleep the first few days because I wasn’t used to unplugging in the middle of the day. After a few days, though, I was able to fall asleep soon after I started listening to the relaxing playlist.

Within the first few days of conducting this little experiment on myself, I felt a big difference. After I woke up from my naps, I felt so much more energized. I could concentrate, and I was able to work all the way up until the end of the day instead of watching the clock in anticipation of closing time.

After just one week, I found that my productivity had dramatically improved. I used to feel so inefficient after lunch, but when I implemented the short post-lunch nap, I felt as energetic as I do in the morning. My energy seems to be more evenly distributed throughout the day, and I can be productive for longer.

Give power-napping a try

It may seem counterproductive to take a nap in order to do more, but there’s science behind the catnap. Instead of staring off into space and battling your natural fatigue, take a nap. You may think that you’ll lose 20 minutes of work, but the increased energy and focus you experience after your nap will more than make up for it.

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Featured photo credit: Picjumbo via picjumbo.com

Reference

More by this author

Brian Lee

Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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Last Updated on August 5, 2021

What is Turmeric? The Ultimate Guide To Tumeric

What is Turmeric? The Ultimate Guide To Tumeric
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Turmeric, Curcuma longa or “Indian saffron” has been a part of the healthy dieting trend for quite some time, and it isn’t without a good reason. Traditionally Asian, the plant belongs to the ginger family and it gives curry its yellowish color and warm, bitter taste. With an amazing array of health benefits it offers, it is no wonder that it has been quickly adopted by the health conscious eaters around the world.

Originating in Southern Asia, traditionally, turmeric root (usually dried and cooked and turned into powder) has been used as a spice for dishes in the traditional cuisine, fabric or food coloring aid, and for medical purposes due to its anti-inflammatory effect and great aid in curing bruises, blood in the urine and toothache. With numerous clinical trials testing its active compound curcumin, turmeric has now been proven to improve brain health, cardiovascular health and tissue health. [1] [2]

Turmeric main nutrients

Serving Size: 1 tbsp (7 grams)

  • Calories 24
  • Calories from Fat 6
  • Total Fat 1 g 1%
  • Saturated Fat 0 g 1%
  • Trans Fat
  • Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
  • Sodium 3 mg 0%
  • Total Carbohydrates 4 g 4%
  • Dietary Fiber 1 g 6%
  • Vitamin C 3%

With no sugar, 16% of iron and 1g of protein per 7 grams, turmeric is a beneficial aid in daily nutrition.

Health benefits of turmeric

Turmeric improves digestion

Turmeric has positive effect on the digestion. As the 2015 research shows [3], turmeric and ginger help in curing stomach ulcer. Stomach ulcer develops as a result of an imbalance between digestive fluids in the stomach and duodenum and a Helicobacter pylori bacteria that cause pain in the stomach lining. According to the research turmeric “inhibited ulcer by 84.7%” adding that “ethanol-induced lesions such as necrosis, erosion and hemorrhage of the stomach wall were significantly reduced after oral administration of essential oils”.

Turmeric aids in depression treatment

A study [4] published in the Journal of Affective Disorders shows that turmeric has the potential for treating major depressive disorder. A randomized, placebo-controlled study found a significant antidepressant effect of turmeric on people with major depressive disorder. A 2007 study [5] also found that turmeric could be an effective anti-depressant agent.

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Turmeric treats rheumatoid arthritis

In a 2012 randomized, pilot study [6] the effects of turmeric on rheumatoid arthritis were tested and they showed surprisingly great results. Turmeric actually showed better results of improvement of the condition than the traditionally used drug diclofenac sodium.

Turmeric regulates lipid levels

A 1992 study [7] shows that active compound of turmeric, curcumin, taken daily, can help regulate the lipid levels in humans by increasing “good” cholesterol and decreasing “bad” cholesterol. Namely, “a significant decrease in the level of serum lipid peroxides (33%), increase in HDL Cholesterol (29%), and a decrease in total serum cholesterol (11.63%) were noted” after healthy volunteers were taking 500 mg of curcumin per day for 7 days. Additionally, curcumin from turmeric was proven to have better effect on regulation of lipids than vitamin E, as the study [8] shows.

Turmeric improves antioxidant mechanisms

The ability of curcumin to stimulate the antioxidant mechanisms was tested and proven in a number of studies. [9]

This means that curcumin aids in the process of fighting free radicals that cause aging and many diseases.

Turmeric aids in prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease

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Additional studies need to be conducted in order to test the ability of curcumin to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease, yet a study [10] has found that curcumin can help to clear the buildup of protein tangles called Amyloid plaques which are one of the main causes for the disease.

Turmeric accelerates the wound healing process

A 2006 [11] and a 2014 [12] studies have found that curcumin in turmeric has great potential to speed up the wound healing process. Namely, the active compounds in turmeric can help to soothe irritation and oxidation, improve wound contraction and and increase tissue strength and cell proliferation around the wound.

Turmeric side effects

As with any type of food, it is important to consume turmeric in moderation, as any overuse can lead to possible side effects. Turmeric side effects include

  • Nausea and diarrhea – curcumin in turmeric can cause the irritation in the intestinal tract [13]
  • Increased risk of bleeding – Turmeric can slow blood clothing, and in combination with some medicine, can even cause excessive bleeding
  • Hyperactive gallbladder contractions – Turmeric has the potential of increasing the levels of oxalate in urine
  • Hypotension (lowered blood pressure) – High dosages of turmeric can significantly lower blood pressure
  • Uterine contractions in pregnant women – Pregnant and breastfeeding women shouldn’t take turmeric other than spice in food, since supplement turmeric can cause serious side effects

Allergic reactions – Possible allergic reactions to turmeric include mild, itchy rash after skin exposure

Fresh or dried, powdered turmeric

There are two forms in which you can find and use turmeric, therefore, there are some suggestions on how to pick the right one for your needs.

Fresh turmeric is a root turmeric that resembles ginger. A 2015 study [14] has shown that fresh turmeric has more bioavailability, meaning that the body will use its most effective compounds more easily. Fresh turmeric can be used to make tea; you can grate it into soups, salads or vegetables before roasting; it can be blended into smoothies and juiced into juices.

Dried turmeric is made by peeling, drying and grounding into powder. Even though some of the healthy ingredients are lost during the process, several studies show that boiling and heating actually increase the curcumin levels and enhance the antioxidant properties of the compound. [15]

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Turmeric is especially recommended for patients suffering from dyspepsia (upset stomach), osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis, according to WebMD.

However some conditions don’t respond well to turmeric and its active compound curcumin, therefore turmeric might not be safe for

  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women
    People with
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Hormone sensitive disorders
  • Iron deficiency
  • Who are preparing for surgery or who have recently undergone one

Recommended dosages of turmeric for adults according to University of Maryland Medical Center

Cut root: 1.5 – 3 g per day

Dried, powdered root: 1 – 3 g per day

Standardized powder (curcumin): 400 – 600 mg, 3 times per day

Fluid extract (1:1) 30 – 90 drops a day

Tincture (1:2): 15 – 30 drops, 4 times per day

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Healthy and super easy turmeric recipes for you to try at home

Here are some suggestions on how to make healthy and simple turmeric meals and beverages at home.

Cauliflower Steaks with Ginger, Turmeric, and Cumin

    Add a bit of turmeric warm and healthy flavor to your regular roasted vegetables for a perfect dinner.

    Vegan Creamy Curried Cauliflower Soup

      Quick and easy recipe for a perfectly creamy, warm and slightly spicy soup.

      Turmeric-Ginger Tea

        Super easy and extremely powerful warm beverage to fight even the nastiest cold.

        Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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        Reference

        [1] SOURCE: Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition.Chapter 13Turmeric, the Golden Spice. 
        [2] SOURCE: The targets of curcumin.
        [3] SOURCE: Gastroprotective activity of essential oils from turmeric and ginger.
        [4] SOURCE: Curcumin for the treatment of major depression: a randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled study.
        [5] SOURCE: Behavioral, neurochemical and neuroendocrine effects of the ethanolic extract from Curcuma longa L. in the mouse forced swimming test.
        [6] SOURCE:A randomized, pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of curcumin in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis.
        [7] SOURCE:Effect of oral curcumin administration on serum peroxides and cholesterol levels in human volunteers.
        [8] SOURCE:Spice Up Your Lipids: The Effects of Curcumin on Lipids in Humans
        [9] SOURCE: Curcumin induces glutathione biosynthesis and inhibits NF-kappaB activation and interleukin-8 release in alveolar epithelial cells: mechanism of free radical scavenging activity.
        [10] SOURCE: Curcuminoids enhance amyloid-beta uptake by macrophages of Alzheimer’s disease patients.
        [11] SOURCE: Curcumin improves wound healing by modulating collagen and decreasing reactive oxygen species.
        [12] SOURCE: Curcumin as a wound healing agent
        [13] SOURCE: Role of curcumin in systemic and oral health: An overview
        [14] SOURCE: Enhanced absorption and pharmacokinetics of fresh turmeric (Curcuma Longa L) derived curcuminoids in comparison with the standard curcumin from dried rhizomes
        [15] SOURCE: Effect of Boiling and Roasting on the Antioxidants Concentrations in Extracts of Fresh Ginger (Zingiber officinale) and Turmeric (Curcuma longa).

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