Sleep deprivation is linked to a lot of scary things like Alzheimer’s disease, depression, memory problems, and cancer — and while a nap won’t completely make up for hours of lost sleep, scientists agree a power nap can do wonders.
In past studies naps have been shown to improve immune health, energy and mood, and cognitive function. Now a new study from the University of Michigan links naps during typical waking hours to improved emotional control.
Sleep deprivation has been linked to increased impulsive responses to frustrating obstacles and decreased levels of emotional intelligence and constructive thinking. Simply put, studies show that the longer people are awake, the lower the likelihood that they can regulate their emotional responses.
During the recent University of Michigan study, researchers found napping to increase frustration tolerance and decrease feelings of impulsivity in participants.
The researchers asked participants to perform various computer-based behavioural exercises and answer questions about their sleepiness, mood, and impulsivity. Then they either watched a 60-minute nature documentary or were allowed to take an hour-long nap. They then repeated the computer tasks.
Researchers found participants who didn’t nap were less willing to endure a frustratingly unsolvable task and reported feeling more impulsive, while those who did nap showed more tolerance for frustration and reported feeling less impulsive.
“These findings suggest that napping may be an effective strategy to counteract negative emotional consequences, including increased impulsivity and decreased ability to tolerate frustration that may occur as wakefulness increases throughout the day,” the study authors wrote.
The author of “The Best Place To Work” has long been a proponent for on-the-job napping, but he said that he debated whether or not to recommend this in his book since many struggle with office space constraints and cultural attitudes about napping.
“Particularly in American culture, we like to believe that productivity is a function of effort, and that if we work hard we’ll produce,” he said. “But the reality is that we have a biological need for rest no different or less important than our need for food or water.”
Friedman believes the solution begins at the top, and leaders can model better attitudes about sleep by creating restoration rooms in the office and encouraging people to use them.
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