“Sleep deprivation is a massive future health hazard, ” says Dr Caroline Horton, senior lecturer in cognitive psychology at Bishop Grosseteste University in Lincoln. Research shows that people are sleeping several minutes a night less than they did 10 years ago. Many of us waste time awake in bed, our faces illuminated by blue smartphone light.
The scientific community is yet to build a long-term body of evidence of the consequences, but lack of sleep has been associated with the rise of Alzheimer’s, dementia, mental health disorders and slower recovery times from cancer treatments.
Siestas are common practice in many parts of Europe but here in the U.S., they tend to be frowned upon.
This is actually a pretty dated stream of thought, as studies are showing that a nap can be beneficial on many different levels, from increasing awareness and memory to aiding in more effective learning.
Mary Gresham, a clinical psychologist practicing in Atlanta says: “We are recognizing the importance of sleep as a mechanism of consolidating information, dealing with the events of the day, and recharging our energy.”
Some companies do, however, provide a nap-friendly environment. Proctor & Gamble and Google have installed ‘EnergyPods’, specifically designed for napping in the workplace.
But how long should a power nap be?
The most commonly cited study, which was conducted back in 2006, suggests that a daytime nap of less than 30 minutes — promotes wakefulness and enhances both performance and learning ability.
Hopefully, work culture will start to recognize that a well-rested employee is a highly efficient and more productive employee.