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How To Super Boost Your Productivity By Taking Quick Nap

How To Super Boost Your Productivity By Taking Quick Nap

It is now generally accepted that a short sleep or nap in the afternoon will boost your productivity and get you raring to go again. The southern Mediterranean countries have known and practised this since ancient times. Some large companies, such as Google and Apple, have nap-friendly policies. Other companies put napping pods in the communal areas so that taking a power nap is accepted.

According to NASA, you can boost your productivity by about 35 percent if you take a 26-minute nap. Don’t worry — it doesn’t have to be exactly 26 minutes!

If you want to do it privately, you can go to a napping spa where you will get a 20 minute nap for about $17. The important thing is to prevent the short nap from becoming a longer, deeper sleep (slow wave sleep). That might mean you would wake up feeling rather groggy and bad-tempered. This is why 20-45 minutes is usually considered ideal. Some experts say that longer than 30 minutes is unproductive, however.

There are many studies that list the benefits of napping. These include being more alert, reduced fatigue, faster reaction times, better memory, enhanced mood and sharper logical reasoning. Not to mention more efficient decision making. All these without the need for yet another coffee!

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If your company does not have napping rooms, you may find that an inexpensive device called a Dream Helmet (about $30), which has a pillow, mask and earplugs, will help you have a short nap.  Here are 9 ways to make sure that you are going to get the maximum benefit from your nap.

1. Choose your best time to nap

“You must sleep sometime between lunch and dinner… Don’t think you will be doing less work because you sleep during the day. That’s a foolish notion held by people who have no imaginations. You will be able to accomplish more. You get two days in one — well, at least one and a half, I’m sure.”Winston Churchill

Everyone has different sleep patterns and sleep-wake rhythms. These rise and fall throughout the day. You have to work out what is best for you. If you suffer from insomnia, a nap may not be a workable solution.

If your sleep is regular and you feel that you are slowing down and drowsy in the mid afternoon, then that is fine, as a nap will not interfere with your night sleep schedule. Aim for a short nap. Anything more than 45 minutes could make you feel even worse when you wake up!

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2. Remove your shoes

Taking off your shoes is just one thing you should do to get comfortable. Maybe you do not have your pajamas with you, but loosening any tight clothes will be a great way to relax.

 3. Please do not disturb

Make sure that those around you know that this is your time out and that it should be respected. Ensure all your devices are switched off and you are in a quiet spot. In the workplace, this may well be impossible; but if you are working from home, it is certainly easier.

4. Sit down or lie down?

Well, you are not a horse so you cannot take your power nap standing up! Lying down will help you relax and sleep. Even if you do not actually doze off, there are still benefits from a quiet wakefulness. Napping while sitting is also beneficial although it is better to lie down, if you can.

5. Use a blanket, if you have one

Blankets give you a sense of security and comfort. But there is another reason why we should cover up. As you sleep, your body temperature tends to go down and metabolism slows. Without a blanket, you may feel cold and wake up.

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6. Be careful with wake-up gimmicks

Normally, you will sleep as long as you need and it is best, in my experience, to avoid using an alarm clock or other gimmicks. If you have appointments, however, set the alarm on your phone.

7. Darkness helps you nap

Aim for a dark spot if you can. Any light pollution interferes with the sleep process, as has been shown in scientific studies. Always have your eye mask handy, just in case you do not find a dark place.

8. Learn to feel less guilty

“Sleep is the food of the brain”- David Gozal.

In the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant tradition, sleeping on the job was a no-no. Now all that has changed, thankfully. Learn to get over any guilt complexes about sleeping on the job. You are merely recharging your batteries, and your brain will be in top gear when you wake up.

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9. Drink less coffee

Coffee is great for that caffeine shot that keeps you alert and gives you more energy. But the negative health effects from too much of it are well known and documented. These include jitters and anxiety. It can also keep you too hyped up so that when you want to nap, you will find it difficult to nod off.

Have you managed to take a nap at work and did it really increase your productivity? Tell us about what happened in the comments below.

 

Featured photo credit: A well deserved power nap/Chris Lawrence via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Freelance writer

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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