In Spain the siesta is an essential part of the Spanish lifestyle. In countries more concerned about their corporate lifestyles than their health, a mid-day nap is seen as a luxury and, in some cases, a sign of pure laziness. But before you have the 4th coffee, or you feel guilty about that weekend snooze, or falling asleep during a movie, rest assured that napping is actually good for you and a completely natural phenomena in the circadian (sleep-wake cycle) rhythm. It is clearly put, healthy for you. If you have been to our retreat you know that the Rest, is essential for our health. It is allowing our bodies to have what they need.
As our day draws on, even when we get enough sleep at night, our focus and alertness degrade. While this can be a minor inconvenience in modern times, it was a question of life or death for our ancestors. It is also a way to cope with tough climates like a scorching hot sun. Imagine those Spanish farmers working on the field without sun glasses all day, burning the retina. No wonder they closed the shutters on the window at home and slept away the worst heat during the day to go out and work until sunset. Whether you are avoiding the heat, finishing up a project for work or hunting for your livelihood, a nap can rekindle your alertness and have your neurons back up and firing on high in as little as 15 to 20 minutes.
Big name (and high-dollar) companies recognize this. Google and Apple are just a few that allow employees to have nap time. In Sweden large offices are required to have a ‘rest room’, where anyone can go and rest if needed (but seldom allow themselves). Studies have affirmed that short naps can improve awareness and productivity. Plus, who wouldn’t love a boss that lets you get a little shut-eye before the afternoon push? No, today we do the opposite. The conventional boss looks affirming at you when working long hours. We book the most important meetings at 2 pm when our biochemistry is the least apt for decision making.
At the University of Colorado Boulder a study found that children who missed their afternoon nap showed less joy and interest, more anxiety, and poorer problem solving skills than other children. The same can be seen in adults that benefit from napping. Our social skills are lost with the dizziness of exhaustion and it doesn’t help with yet another coffee. In another study done by researchers at Berkley shows that an hour nap dramatically increase learning ability and memory.
Naps sort of provide a reboot, where the short term memory is cleared out and our brain becomes refreshed, we decrease the stress hormones that leaves space for the ‘happy hormones’ to step in. The best rest relative the time spent, is mediation (be in silence and stillness), short sleep without reaching the deep sleep, or guided relaxing like the Pzizzes that are sounds helping you to quickly reach the point were the neurons get rejuvenated. You can download these 10 or 20 minutes, guided relaxations, and others to your mobile.