Health and Beauty

Mr. Obama, give us our naps

Are the president's naps more important than yours?
Are the president’s naps more important than yours?

Watching the State of the Union last night while playing your Poland Spring drinking game, you noticed the prez up the ante on minimum wage, proposing to hike it to $9 an hour, which is even more than New York’s Gov. Cuomo was seeking, which is kinda nice when you consider how many laid off professionals end up doing crap jobs for vomit pay these days. And there was talk about overall economic stability, and increasing American output by stealing Apple jobs from struggling Taiwanese workers. But where was the real talk of progressive reform that our nation’s overburdened and overloaded workers are demanding? We’re talking the third rail of office politics: Naps. Naps, not apps! What do we want? “A place to lie down for a few minutes!” When do we want it? “Sometime around 2:30 would be great!”

We need them, now more than ever, as described in this New York Times story from last week about how relaxation increases productivity. And part of that relaxation is, of course, the simple nap, which does so very much for us, says Science:

Quoth the Times:

Daytime naps have a similar effect on performance. When night shift air traffic controllers were given 40 minutes to nap — and slept an average of 19 minutes — they performed much better on tests that measured vigilance and reaction time.

Longer naps have an even more profound impact than shorter ones. Sara C. Mednick, a sleep researcher at the University of California, Riverside, found that a 60- to 90-minute nap improved memory test results as fully as did eight hours of sleep.

For reals though, I am a 100 percent believer in the healing power of naps. This is from someone who spent the past three years freelancing, where my office was located 4.5 feet from my bed, where after a solid morning chock full of a well-balanced blogging breakfast, the afternoon drags started to set in like clockwork. All I needed to pop back to life was a quick 10 minutes in the horizontal position, letting the dulcet tones of Terry Gross on the radio buffet a quick power nap. It’s something in that act of shutting down and rebooting that recharges the battery and banishes those heavy eye lids to the land of wind and ghosts.

Now I suddenly have found myself with a full-time job, one where I have not quite discovered the secret napping spots, and since it is still too cold to make a bed in Bryant Park, I am forced to chug coffee, or eat an apple, or otherwise go up and down stairs a few times like a fat-shamed Geraldo to get the ol’ blood flowing again (and sometimes it’s K-Cup coffee, which is the ACTUAL WORST). Even then, the kind of afternoon productivity you create is a shadow of your potential, a sluggish drag through the pm mire that’s fighting against the tide of tiredness while lashed to the wild horses of a caffeine burst. In short, coffee is the treatment, but naps are the cure.

Plus, this is New York, where you usually (or at least, should) stay up late anyway, raging into the fascinating night, then get up early out of fear of missing something else fun coming your way, and end up devoid of sleep no matter what.  Remember when Sartre said: “Three o’clock is always too early or too late to do anything you want”? That’s why it is the perfect napping hour.

I know all you kids in your tech startups have ample napping spaces, with your fancy Google-wired bunk beds and FourSquare hammocks and whatnot, but the nap movement has yet to permeate the old business world.This needs to stop. Naps now, naps tomorrow, naps forever.

Follow Tim for further nap-advocacy: @timdonnelly.

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