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Napping is not just for kids

Chapter 4 Napping


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 imagination. 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 Share this expert WC Winston Churchill , Winston S. Churchill: Never Despair, 1945–1965

Most people follow a monophasic sleep pattern, which involves a single, consolidated stretch of sleep in a 24-hour cycle. But some people prefer a biphasic or a polyphasic sleep pattern, which requires taking one or more naps during the day, respectively.

Biphasic sleep is a sleep pattern that is divided into two segments per day. It is a very technical way of saying that someone takes a nap in addition to their nightly sleep. Napping is a way for adults who experience drowsiness during their wake-cycle to recharge. Those who feel sluggish during the day, even after having slept enough the previous night, can feel energized after a short afternoon nap. Sara Mednick Share this expert SM Sara Mednick says that naps are good for most people. Sleeping during the day from 15 to 90 minutes can improve cognitive functions such as memory, focus, and creativity.

Winston Churchill Share this expert WC Winston Churchill and Thomas Edison Share this expert TE Thomas Edison were famous nappers. Edison was known to have only slept for three to four hours a night and took power naps. Napping cots were discovered throughout his property, even though he claimed sleep was a waste of time. Winston Churchill openly disclosed his biphasic schedule. He regularly slept for five hours a night and took two-hour naps in the afternoon.

Napping in the afternoon was common in Meditteranean countries. Spain is known for its siesta. Italy calls it riposo, pennichella or pisolino (depending on the region). Napping appears to be on the decline in southern Europe, including talk of scrapping the siesta entirely in Spain. In one survey , almost 60% of Spaniards reported never napping. Only 16% took daily naps. By contrast, another survey found that one-third of American adults take a nap on any given day. In China, a lunchtime nap is commonplace, even in the workplace. The Japanese practice of inemuri roughly means “sleeping while being present” and amounts to sleeping in public, including in meetings at work, or on public transport, etc. Although it fulfills most definitions of napping, the Japanese consider it to be something different.

As scientific insights about the benefits of napping have emerged, perceptions of napping appear to be changing in countries where napping was previously stigmatized. For example, many organizations in Western countries have begun providing their employees with nap rooms or nap pods .

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