8 to 5 with a Nap Included

 Last month, legendary aviator and record breaker Steve Fossett became the first person to accomplish a solo round-the-world flight in an airplane. Crammed into a 7′ 7" cockpit, Fossett completed the record-breaking flight in 67 hours, 2 minutes, and 38 seconds. Much like a marathon runner, when you are flying around the world, you count the seconds.

Fossett took off from Salina Airport in Kansas on February 28, traveled 23,000 statute miles, and spanned four continents, finally landing back in Salina on March 4, 2005. His was the first solo nonstop circumnavigation of the world without stopping or refueling an aircraft. And to think that I find it difficult to find a direct flight from Los Angeles to Orlando.

For nearly 3 days, Fossett survived only on “power napping” and diet milkshakes. While I am not an expert on the nutritional benefits of diet milkshakes, I am a strong supporter of the benefits of power napping. No amount of power napping is going to cure someone who is suffering from severe insomnia or is trying to get by on 4 hours of sleep, but it can be a valuable tool for the majority of people who get only 6 to 7 hours of sleep and for individuals who lead a busy and hectic lifestyle.

The Web site www.sciencedaily.com has published articles on the scientific research and health benefits associated with power napping. According to the Web site, power napping can prevent burnout, which is described as irritation, frustration, and poor performance with a mental task. Power napping can enhance the processing of information and learning, with a mid-day nap reversing information overload.

There are various opinions on the ideal length of time for a power nap, but most experts suggest 20 to 30 minutes as the ideal time limit. Researchers at sciencedaily.com have suggested that while a 30-minute nap prevents further mental deterioration, a 1-hour nap actually boosts mental performance. Research has shown that 1-hour naps contained more than four times as much deep or slow-wave sleep and REM sleep than in half-hour naps. While most people will not be able to find the time to squeeze in a 1-hour nap, 20 to 30 minutes is usually feasible.

Whether you are interfacing with a busy executive, an employee, student, retired person, or a stay-at-home mom, advise them to use an alarm clock or timer so they do not sleep beyond their allotted time limit. This will reduce their stress level over the possibility of sleeping too long. You can find some helpful tips on power napping at http://stress.about.com. Some of the recommendations you will find on this site include post-lunch midday naps, which are considered ideal, providing the individual has been awake for at least 8 hours. For those who go for a power nap and find it impossible to fall asleep, just closing one’s eyes and relaxing for 20 to 30 minutes can help rejuvenate and refresh. Cornell University psychologist James B. Maas, PhD, author of Power Sleep, says that a 20-minute nap in the afternoon provides more rest than an extra 20 minutes in the morning.

One key to getting people to take advantage of power napping is to help them stop feeling guilty about taking a nap at work or an afternoon nap at home. For those who have a hard time handling a nap at work within the confines of the office, once people understand that a power nap will help make them a more efficient and productive business owner, manager, or employee, power naps may become a mainstay within our society. If power napping could get Steve Fossett around the world in under 3 days, just think what it will do for the average 8-to-5 worker. Throw in a diet milkshake, and it seems there is no end to what you can accomplish.

Tony Ramos
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