If a 20-minute nap, a cup of joe, and more shuteye at night were in a cage match, who would win for reducing that classic afternoon "dip"? The answer is: (in order of effectiveness)
A new study just released proves the power of a nap over a jolt of caffeine and even more sleep at night. It's actually the first such study to look at all three methods for combating the afternoon lull that's commonly experienced--and which is a very normal physiological response to the body cycling through its natural rhythms during the day.
Just because you feel sleepy at some point in the afternoon doesn't actually mean you're sleep deprived. About eight hours after you wake up, the body's temperature dips a little, triggering that oh-so-annoying drowsiness after lunch and smack dab in the middle of your attempts to focus and get more done in the late afternoon.
Why am I not surprised the nap wins out? For many reasons:
I've long been an advocate for napping. The best kind? A 20-minute snooze within a 30 minute time period (10 extra minutes to get comfortable and into sleep mode). Or try the Nap-a-latte™, which is the dynamic duo.
But here's a big caveat: most people would probably choose caffeine over a nap, and ditch the nap entirely. Downing caffeine can be easier, quicker, and socially more acceptable in many ways. Finding a place to nap in the middle of the workday can be a challenge. And studies have also shown that when deciding between a nap and an "attractive wakeful activity," they choose the activity.
Let's face it, coffeehouses have multiple buzzes going on. People. Internet. Connectivity. Social interaction. Exchanges of ideas. And tasty treats beyond the joes and javas. Naps tend to be solitary and, dare I say, not as sexy.
But for what it's worth, hail to the nap.
Michael J. Breus, PhD, FAASM
The Sleep Doctor™
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