Monday, March 16, 2009

That Brilliant Powernap

Driving home from work I often find is an arduous experience; tiredness creeps in and suddenly it’s ‘all hands on deck’ within my brain, with all my energy absorbed in just driving.

I don’t leave it too long nowadays before common sense kicks in and I pull over in a shady spot, throw some ear plugs into my ears, lock the doors and set the alarm on my mobile phone--then it’s sleepy bobo’s time for anything from ten to twenty minutes or so, allowing some time to nod off.

I was told only recently by a work colleague who’d visited Edison’s workshop that he survived on as little as five powernaps a day; he’d curl up on his workbench and after ten or fifteen minutes or so he’d spring up ready to resume his work.

He was apparently able to sustain twenty two hour work days like this.

I recall as an external university student, doing long hours of study at home, the powernap was the perfect fix for the inevitable droop.

After a recent nap myself, zonked for twenty solid minutes by the side of the road, I too sprung up and again realised the tremendous re-vitalising qualities of the powernap.

I was alert, awake, fully aware, and fully alive… I was ready to party. This heightened awareness also brings the normally intermittent dormancy of creativity alive; suddenly great thoughts and ideas were buzzing through my head, and I was moved to capture them.

Especially if you struggle to sleep, the powernap--at any time of the day, and almost anywhere--is a fantastic innovation.

One word of warning, however. Don’t sleep past twenty or twenty five minutes or you’ll risk waking up in what’s called ‘sleep inertia,’ which is a state where the brain and body want to continue to sleep; you feel groggy and just not with it. This is because you slipped into a deeper stage of sleep than desired.[1]

So, long live the powernap. There’s a lot of sleep science that supports it.

For sleep problems in general Professor Drew Dawson of the Centre of Sleep Research at the University of South Australia is an acknowledged expert on sleep disorders and fatigue. See for a recent talkback.

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

[1] There are four stages of sleep. The third and fourth stages deep sleep. Not a place to go if you’re wanting to remain operational.

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