Dr. Sara Mednick is an assistant professor and sleep researcher at the University of California. And she has some surprising ideas about naps.
Alright… Pop Quiz: It’s 3pm and you’re at the office, working on a project with a tight deadline. Your boss is breathing down your neck to finish and you feel sleepy. What do you do?
(a) Grab another cup of coffee
(b) Take a power nap
Most of us will choose (a) grab another cup of coffee. But is that really the best solution? In this informative Ted Talk, “Give it up for the Down State,” Dr. Sara Mednick will shatter your perception of caffeine.
Not only does caffeine NOT help you be more productive, it actually decreases your productivity. Shocking, right? I know I feel more alert after downing a caffeinated latte. Get ready to have your socks blown off.
Dr. Sara Mednick – Ted Talk on Naps
A Culture of Caffeine
In our current business and school cultures, there is constant pressure to stay awake and work hard. Napping, sleeping, and resting are viewed as signs of laziness or a bad work ethic. So when we feel tired, instead of listening to our body and taking a break, we grab a cup o’ Joe.
We live in a caffeine-culture and are constantly encouraged to drink more coffee, energy drinks, and colas. Sure, caffeine makes you feel more alert. It may even make you feel more productive.
But does caffeine actually improve your performance? According to Sara Mednick, the answer is a resounding NO.
Naps are Better than Coffee
Dr. Mednick’s research challenges our beliefs about caffeine. But she doesn’t stop there. She asks, “What actually does improve performance?”
Her discoveries may surprise you. But when you stop to think about it – her findings aren’t all that shocking. The answer is simple:
Naps are better than coffee!
Through her research, Sara Mednick discovered that napping and taking breaks are the best way to stay alert AND increase performance, memory, and creativity.
Google Got it Right
It’s pretty well known at this point that Google, along with many other forward-thinking companies, actually have nap rooms. Employees are allowed and encouraged to take naps during work hours.
Does Google do this out of the kindness of its giant corporate heart? Maybe. But I have a feeling it’s more self-serving. Naps are more effective than coffee in staying alert and increasing productivity. They’re cheaper too, when you factor in the cost of replenishing the office coffee supply.
Half-Days on Wednesday, Anyone?
Taking the idea of breaks a step further, Sara Mednick challenges the current 40-hour work week. What if working eight hours a day, five days a week doesn’t lead to the greatest productivity?
Instead, she proposes taking a mid-week break. What would happen if you took Wednesday afternoon off, every week? Instead of working, you could take the time to relax – go skiing, learn to play an instrument, spend time with your family, or do whatever you wanted.
According to Sara, this could lead to greater overall productivity and even help boost the sagging US economy. I’m right with you, Sara! Let’s take Wednesday afternoon off!
From Afternoon Coffee to Afternoon Breaks
In my own experience, I do notice that I am more alert and productive after a good night’s sleep. When I start to feel sleepy my concentration goes and my productivity drops.
As a student and when I worked in the corporate world, it was easy to grab some coffee to keep me going. Sure, I was able to stay awake into the wee hours of the night to finish my work. But at what cost?
I might have been better off with a nap. I guess it’s too late to know for sure. But I do know that now when I feel sleepy, I take a nap. Instead of grabbing an energy drink, I take a break. The work still gets done, and according to Sara Mednick, it gets done better!
It’s your turn, Dreamer
I’d love to hear your experience. What do you do when your afternoon lull sets in – grab a coffee or grab a nap? Share your stories in the comments below.