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How To Take An Effective Nap To Super Boost Your Productivity

How To Take An Effective Nap To Super Boost Your Productivity

“Sleep when you’re dead.” I’ve heard this more times than I can count. The idea is that you’ll have plenty of time to sleep when you die, so don’t waste your time while your alive.

Napping and sleeping in general has become a sign of laziness or weakness. We should be willing, society says, to forego sleep in an effort to keep going, keep working, keep doing.

But sleep and napping specifically, can actually make you a better and more productive person overall. In fact, some companies are installing nap rooms. In fact, research on pilots at NASA showed that a 26-minute nap in flight (while a co-pilot was on duty) enhanced performance by 34% and overall alertness by 54%.

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So, get comfy, lean back and get a few winks. You’ll be surprised at how refreshed you’ll feel after — and ready to keep working.

Take Off Your Shoes

This is really essential. Taking off your shoes will help you get in a comfier state of mind and if you aren’t laying there thinking about how you still have your shoes on, your much more likely to get to sleep quickly.

Lay Down

Laying down for a nap tells your body that you are ready to sleep. Sleep is essential for “resetting” your brain and getting you ready for the rest of your day. It also takes about 50 percent longer to fall asleep sitting up. So it’s much better to just lay down and go right to sleep – especially if you’re on a schedule.

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“Sleep not only rights the wrong of prolonged wakefulness but, at a neurocognitive level, it moves you beyond where you were before you took a nap,” said Matthew Walker, an assistant professor of psychology at UC Berkeley who studies the effects of sleep and napping.

Use a Blanket

Or a coat or something to snuggle under. Because sleeping lowers your metabolism, you can get chilled while you’re sleeping. Use a blanket to keep you cozy and sleeping the whole time you’re taking your nap.

Limit Your Napping Time

Aim for a nap of between 20 and 45 minutes. Naps of this length will help you feel refreshed, yet keep you from feeling groggy. A nap of about 90 minutes in length can also boost your creativity. Much longer, though, and you’ll feel groggy and possibly have trouble acclimating back into your day for a little while.

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Nap After Lunch

Our bodies are predisposed to sleep after lunch – which is likely why were are so sleepy after lunch, regardless of what we’ve eaten. In a U.C. Berkeley sleep study, “At 2 p.m., the nap group took a 90-minute siesta while the no-nap group stayed awake. Later that day, at 6 p.m., participants performed a new round of learning exercises. Those who remained awake throughout the day became worse at learning. In contrast, those who napped did markedly better and actually improved in their capacity to learn.”

Remember, just because people in the U.S. sleep only at night, doesn’t mean that’s how our bodies are meant to function. Many cultures sleep shorter at night and incorporate a short nap into the day. This helps you get more accomplished all day long, instead of just during the 8 or 10 hours you spend at work.

Set an Alarm

Don’t waste your time trying to wake up any other way. If you need to do something at a certain time — pick up your child from school, go to a meeting, or whatever, then set an alarm and make sure you’ll hear it. Most cell phones have alarm functions and you can even set them to go off again if you need them to.

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Eliminate Guilt

Don’t let cultural expectations or societal standards dictate your need for sleep. If you need to sleep, sleep. Work it in to your schedule so that you can sleep when you need to and still perform your job or other responsibilities effectively. There is no reason why needing to sleep should make you feel guilty. Everyone needs to, whether they admit or not. It’s way better to get some sleep and keep going then to just lay around and watch TV at the end of the day — not doing anything useful because you’re too tired to do anything else.

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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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