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Nap your way to success

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Reading this at work? Wouldn't you rather put your head down and catch a good five-minute power nap? Go ahead; I'll explain to your boss that you're on the cutting edge of increased productivity, because napping has gone mainstream.

Working people in this country aren't getting enough sleep. According to the Sleep Foundation, the Americans it surveyed reported sleeping around six hours and 55 minutes a night during the week. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in its American Time Use Survey that working persons 25 to 54 slept 7.7 hours a night. The Sleep Foundation states there isn't a magic number for ideal sleep that pertains to everybody, but in my experience the number is always -- more.

Now, however, my favorite hobby, napping, is increasingly gaining traction in the American business place. No longer must weary execs sneak a 10-minute snooze on the commode. Companies such as Google and Nike actually have set up napping areas for workers to rejuvenate.

Does it pay off? A National Institutes of Health-funded study found that a noontime siesta "reverses information overload" and uses the sleep state to consolidate what it has learned during the day. Other benefits, according to Dr. Sara Mednick, author of "Take a Nap! Change Your Life" include better heart functioning, more creativity, more motivation to exercise, better cognitive functioning, stress reduction, and increased alertness.

The nap movement has led to a nap products and services industry. Google uses a product called the EnergyPod, essentially a recliner with a cover resembling the fat end of an eggshell that comes down over the head and trunk of the napper. It's equipped with a Bose sound system, and has a nap timer at the end of which the napper is "gently awoken with a combination of lighting and vibration."

Taking napping to the next level is a spa in downtown New York, the yelospa. Here, the weary executive can duck in for a quick power nap. 20 minutes goes for $17, or buy in volume, 40 minute for $30. The spa also provides other services such as massage and facials.

To prepare for a proper nap, Mednick recommends:

• Give yourself permission; no, you're not being lazy.
• Nap in the a.m. or just after lunch; it works better with our normal sleep rhythms.
• Moderate your caffeine intake, as well as heavy or sugary foods. Try foods high in protein and calcium.
• Find a quiet, warm nook. Turn off the lights if you can, or wear an eyeshade.
• Set an alarm. Shoot for 20 minutes for a traditional power nap.
Sweet dreams, you future kings and queens of industry.

By Tom Barlow




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