Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dare to Dream

It's day four of the napping experiment. Like a scene out of Sleeping Beauty's castle, three dogs, a cat, and a girl with long blond hair slumber in dormancy through the day while the loud, waking world spins on outside their walls. Of course, instead of roses or magical fire, my bed is surrounded by dog toys.

Demographic studies from the Pew Research center state that an average of 34% of the adult population in the United States will take a nap today. Oddly, napping is prevalent among the not very affluent (those making under 30k annually) and the wealthy (those making over 100k annually), but not so much among the middle class.

Check out this nifty chart from the Pew Research Center article by Paul Taylor (it's a little pixelated, so click the link if you'd like to read their entire article and see it larger):

The Wikipedia article notes that a "power nap" of anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes is most refreshing because the person wakes up before entering the normal sleep cycle. Waking without completing the sleep cycle can cause the napper to feel groggy and disoriented.

Need more proof? Here's an excerpt from an article on about a University of California, Berkeley sleep study:

"The findings came from a study performed by the university in which 39 “healthy, young adults” were divided into two groups. Both groups were given a rigorous learning task at noon which utilized the hippocampus where they performed at comparable levels. The groups were tested again at 6pm, but one group was able to take a 90-minute siesta at 2pm. The group that took a nap showed improvement in their capacity to learn while the non-nap group showed a drop in their learning performance." - Brian Osborne

Judging by the encouraging feedback on my last post, there aren't many who dispute the benefits of rest.

We all know it's good, we just don't make time for it.

Just like...*gasp*...exercise!!! If you'll notice in the graphic above, there is an eerie closeness in the between the percentage of the population who nap (34%) and the percentage of people who exercise (37%).

Here are my napping and exercise stats for the week so far, specially designed to make you cry in shame:
  • Monday: 1 hour nap / 3.5 mile run
  • Tuesday: 30 minute nap / 7.5 mile run
  • Wednesday: 1 hour nap / weights, 30 minutes stair climbing, 3 mile run
  • Thursday (today): nap TBD / 3 mile run, 0.5 mile swim
I'm not gonna lie, it's hella hard to stop what I'm doing and take a nap in the middle of the day. Pretty close to how hard it is to get my butt off the couch and throw on my gym clothes.

So far it seems to be having a positive effect. When I wake up from a nap it's like I'm starting fresh and it seems easier to organize my thoughts and get going on a task. The feeling is like the cache in my brain has been cleared, and now I'm ready to take in and categorize new things. I almost feel like I've added extra days to the week.

I think napping is one of those things where you just need to make an honest assessment of whether or not your body needs it, and if it does, do it.

To help you on your way, I'm going to administer a large dose of sleeping kittens from The Daily Kitten:

There now, don't you feel better?

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