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The Importance of Napping

NAPS Incorporated

We seem to be the only ones in the animal kingdom stupid enough not to take naps most of our lives. ~ ~ ~

Sorry, I just dozed off. Back to where I was, which is...

Our work world precludes us from doing so, as do our schools.

We, like all beings, have a daily cycle, a circadian rhythm which has basically two periods of up and two of down with the nighttime down being the longest. However, that does not excuse us from the other down between 2 and 4 in the afternoon.

There are those who are off this cycle and even the reverse of the cycle, but they are a minority and have their own problems and/or advantages. They can work all night without being interrupted by phone calls, they can take the shifts that everyone else tries to avoid, they get to drive when there is no traffic, or in the opposite direction as everyone else.

There are disadvantages to not listening to our bodies in this regard. When we try to override the lows and keep on working or keep on driving, out accident rates go up, we are not as efficient on the job, plus our attention span shortens, and wanders. Some people even have hallucinations during part of this time which can not be good if they are working on something which requires their full attention. And yet most companies and manufacturers do not take this into consideration. "You've had your lunch, now get back to work. What are we paying you for, to sleep?" There are documented cases of individuals who have worked night shifts when this is the time they should be sleeping. There tend to be more phychological and physical problems associated with such scheduling. This is particularly bad when the individual is constantly shifted back and fourth, for in this instance, the body cannot regulate itself and get attuned to the new pattern. It is similar to constant jet lag.

I live in a country where it is mandatory by law that there not be any work done which would cause noise enough to disturb people taking naps. It is national 'nap time'. There are other countries which have similar laws. But office workers, and public transportation drivers must keep working and driving. There should be a law... The time lost is made up in the productivity, reduction of errors, and worker satisfaction with the job. A case in point:

  • Hearing on Pilot Fatigue "Throughout the course of this outstanding research program, it has been evident that pilot fatigue is a significant safety issue in aviation. Rather than simply being a mental state that can be willed away or overcome through motivation or discipline, fatigue is rooted in physiological mechanisms related to sleep, sleep loss, and circadian rhythms. These mechanisms are at work in flight crews no less than others who need to remain vigilant despite long duty days, transmeridien travel, and working at night when the body is programmed for sleep." Mention is made of a NASA/FAA Fatigue Countermeasures Program Study "(a) to determine the extent of fatigue, sleep loss and circadian disruption in flight operations, (b) to determine the impact of these factors on flight crew performance, and (c) to develop and evaluate countermeasures to mitigate the adverse effects of these factors and maximize flight crew performance and alertness."
  • Fatigue Countermeasures: Alertness Management in Flight Operations
    "Studies have shown that naps can acutely improve alertness.... When circumstances permit, naps should be taken when a person feels sleepy. The length of the nap depends on the time available. Short naps should be limited to 45 minutes or less, in order to avoid the sleep inertia associated with awakening out of deep sleep. Longer naps should be at least 2 hours to allow for the completion of a full NREM/REM cycle. It seems that no nap is too short; some sleep is generally better than no sleep."
  • And for the work place? Napping Enhances Worker Productivity
  • Sleep-Wake Cycle: Its Physiology and Impact on Health (very detailed).
    By the National Sleep Foundation
    Mechanisms Controlling Sleep and Wakefulness
    Why Sleep Matters: The Impact of Sleep and Sleep Loss
    Sleep Disorders
  • The Napping Company, Inc. If you want to get serious about napping, visit this website for books, napping signs and more.
  • NASA Explores (student sheet) Circadian Rhythm Temperature Change talks about rhythm and alert times including middle of day but only asks to do a temperature test when get up and go to bed.
  • National Sleep Foundation Excellent resource
  • Biological Rhythms Outlines a method of taking temperature every two hours to discover your true personal circadian rhythm.

    copyright 2008 J. Morgan Thomas All rights reserved


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