Sleep Doc Wakes Up Nap Shamers

nap

Every day we write until…our brains starts to slow and we need to…nap, for just a few minutes. We lie on the sofa, read a novel about something totally other, then sleep for 20 minutes or so. Letting go into sleep is a kind of reset button for our brain; and allows us return to whatever we were working on with fresh eyes. Still, as much as we KNOW that napping is energetic money-in-the-bank for us, we’ve sometimes viewed our need for naps as a form of, er, weakness, the effect, perhaps, of subtle societal nap shaming. We were happy to see research affirming naps in a recent New York Times.

Gamma-Keystone / Getty Images

Gamma-Keystone / Getty Images

How to Nap describes the research of Damien Leger, who runs the Sleep-Sesearch Center at the Hôtel-Dieu hospital in Paris. He thinks napping is essential, a basic right that should be implemented in the workplace because it improves cognitive performance and reaction time. The key he says, is to nap just enough: sleep no longer than 20 minutes, otherwise you risk sleep drunkenness. (Read more of his strategies here.) He encourages a kind of napping liberation movement, to openly admit to tiredness during the day, and figure out strategies for a short nap, because he says:  “There is nothing shameful about a nap”.

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This wisdom has existed for eons until our workaholic modern age. Japanese haiku poets described the joys of napping hundreds of years ago

I take a nap
Making the mountain water
pound the rice.      

                                       —Issa

How cool if feels
To take a noonday nap
With my feet against a wall! 

                                     —Basho

Terry O'Neill / Getty Images

Terry O’Neill / Getty Images

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