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Many of us admit that we don’t get as much sleep as we should at night. And it’s not always our fault. We’re thinking about the events of the day, worrying about the events of tomorrow, remembering things we need to do, struggling with being too hot or too cold, tossing and turning … it can frustrate, annoy and, most importantly, interfere with our performance the following day.

So, what’s the argument for napping during the day?

Personally, I am a big fan of napping on my lunch break (and relying on my colleagues to wake me up!). But there are pros and cons for everything, so let’s work out whether naps would actually be beneficial.

If I have a nap during the day, will it make it harder to sleep at night? By taking a nap during the “afternoon slump” (8 hours after you wake up), you will be recovering from the sleep deprivation your body has. So this should help you be more alert in the afternoon and evening but still leave you ready for bed at night.

Won’t a nap leave me feeling groggy and confused? There are different stages of sleep, and less than 30 minutes is recommended so that you don’t go too deep. According to Spine-Health, sleeping 20-30 minutes “results in a winding down of activity in the brain’s prefrontal cortex,” and a short power nap will prevent you from entering slow-wave sleep. If you do fall into this deeper state, then waking up can result in sluggish and groggy sleep inertia, so keep your naps quick.

Can naps really improve my afternoon productivity? According to research by NASA, a nap of 26 minutes can boost performance by 34 percent and increase working memory (the capacity to focus on one task while holding others in mind). By losing adequate sleep regularly, you build up a deficit, which is known to negatively affect your reaction time, judgment and mood. So taking a nap to boost all of these during the day is a natural and effective alternative to coffee and energy drinks.

How can naps (and having the right amount of sleep) help my health? There are many examples of sleep making a difference to your health. When you are tired, you tend to binge eat. So by napping and being more awake in the afternoon, you are more likely to stick to water, crave less junk food and eat smaller portions — making weight loss easier. According to an article by HuffPost, getting the wrong amount of sleep can heavily affect your health in other ways too. For example, it increases the risk of cancer, osteoporosis and strokes. The HuffPost article claims that “adults who regularly slept fewer than six hours a night have four times the risk of stroke symptoms.”

In my view, the pros for napping during the working day far outweigh the cons. Where your health is concerned, there should be no compromise. Losing valuable sleep for the sake of work might benefit you now, but you will reap no benefits in later years. Take these tips and do the research to make up your own mind. And if you doubt you can sleep at work, see this Mashable post for some fun tips on pulling off a nap in a shared office environment!

Photo Credit: Josh Liba via Compfight cc

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Anna Duggal
Anna Duggal is a content manager at Search Office Space and meetingrooms.com in London, England. Having always worked from an office, Anna’s working days consist of forcing chocolate biscuits on her colleagues, forgetting to water the plants and nagging her boss for an office cat. Anna is always on social media and likes to read and write blogs about business, workplace matters and different types of working styles. You can connect with Anna on Twitter: @AnnaDuggal.