Are you still getting enough sleep?

power nappingI have written a number of times about the importance of getting sleep and how this influences your productivity at work.  The University of California reported last year that a nap during the afternoon boosted brain power during the traditional afternoon slump.

Then Harvard chimed in with their own research revealing that an afternoon nap improved performance, with long haul pilots used in the study experiencing a 16% improvement in performance over the course of the flight, compared to a 34% decline in those that hadn't taken a quick snooze.

Are you snoozing yet?

Now the Berkley team behind the initial study have come back with some extra research to shed light on the importance of a mid-afternoon snooze.  His team tested 36 participants (half were male; average age 21) on a face processing task, once at 12pm and then again at 5pm. Half the participants were given a 90-minute napping opportunity after the first task, whilst the others just went about their day as usual.

The task involved the participants looking at a computer screen that showed a male face pulling fearful, sad, angry and happy expressions at various intensities. The participants' goal quite simply was to rate each presentation of the face for intensity on a scale from 1 (definitely neutral) to 4 (mostly happy/sad etc).

A living nightmare

Interestingly, those people that stayed awake throughout the afternoon had heightened awareness of fearful or angry expressions.  In contrast, the nappers were more sensitive to happy faces.  So the well rested were more disposed towards happiness, whilst the tired were more disposed to pain and misery.

The researchers believed this change to be due to the fatigue inflicted upon the pre-frontal cortext during the day.  As a result it becomes less able to dampen down exposure to negative images in the sub-cortex.  

An alternative possibility is that it is an evolutionary response.  As we become more tired we adopt a heightened fright or flight reflex and are therefore more responsive to potentially negative stimuli.

Either way a quick nap during the afternoon turns us into glass half full kinda people.  So not only do you have better memory and other mental skills, we are also more inclined to be happy.

Have you adopted an afternoon nap yet?

Comments

Interesting but not all that amazing that a lack of sleep is more likely to make one grumpy.  I would have thought that is quite well known already?

Still trying, but still yet to see any sign of my company allowing staff to take a nap, even on their lunchbreak it'd be looked on rather oddly.