Damien Leger, who runs the Sleep-Research Center at the Hôtel-Dieu hospital in Paris, thinks napping is essential to wellbeing, not a minor luxury. It is a basic right that should be widely implemented, including in the workplace, because it improves cognitive performance, reaction time and mood. And it helps mitigate the deleterious effects of sleep deprivation, a widespread practice that is associated with a host of terrible, even deadly ills.
“Napping is much more powerful than caffeine,” he says in How to Nap in the NY Times Magazine, “and there are no negative side effects.”
The key is to nap just enough: sleep no longer than 20 minutes, otherwise you risk non-rejuventating sleep drunkenness, or disrupting crucial overnight sleep. He encourages a kind of napping liberation movement, to openly admit to tiredness during the day, and figure out strategies for a short nap, like scoping out a place to do it in the midst of work or wherever you find yourself. Says Leger,
“There is nothing shameful about a nap”.
This wisdom has existed for eons until our workaholic modern age stigmatized any kind of fatigue. A whole section at Getty Images is devoted to really smart, creative, famous people napping.
Japanese haiku poets described the joys of napping hundreds of years ago…
I take a nap
Making the mountain water
pound the rice.
How cool if feels
To take a noonday nap
With my feet against a wall!
We are going to follow their lead…
Read more of Leger’s strategies here.