By Bunmi Sofola
For the eight years he was top dog in Americaâ€™s politics, President George W. Bush, the penultimate president of the United States of America was said to sleep for 20 minutes in the afternoon and was regularly in bed by 10 Oâ€™clock.
As far as anyone knows he still sticks with this routine. He is in good company. Napoleon was alleged to have napped between battles and Winston Churchill regularly slept in the afternoon – although he would often stay up all night.
Unfortunately, not all top executives and powerful men get as much sleep as they should.â€ Sleep expert Dr. Chris Idzikowski says: â€œWe are all working harder and getting less sleep than we needâ€.
So what else is new? According to a recent survey nearly three quarters of us are getting less sleep than we did five years ago. And more than half the people questioned felt that a lack of sleep was affecting their performance at work. So could power-napping be the answer? It could let us get through our long days, says the expert.
â€œThink of the brain as a factory, and sleep as the machinery that allows the factory to be productive. â€œIf you nap for around 20 to 40 minutes, you are in the first couple of sleep stages and will feel better when you wake up. You are warming up the machinery to help your brain work better. But power naps should be short, otherwise they wonâ€™t work. If you sleep for longer, you will enter deep sleep. And when youâ€™re woken, youâ€™ll feel irritable. Thatâ€™s like stopping the machinery suddenly when itâ€™s in full production.â€
Sadly, todayâ€™s busy lifestyles are supposed to be in the way of our natural sleep patterns and we shouldnâ€™t be ashamed to nap. â€œIn our urbanized society, we get up early and go to bed late,â€ explains the expert. â€œWe arenâ€™t programmed to live that way. We need a certain amount of sleep so we build up â€˜sleep debt* Most people wait until the weekend to pay it off all at once. But by getting a small amount of sleep the middle of the afternoon, you can rejuvenate your brain and pay off some of the sleep debt.
â€œSiestas have long been a feature of Mediterranean culture.Â Â Shops and businesses in Greece, Italy and Spain regularly close in the long, hot afternoons. In America some large businesses have special rooms containing massage chairs, where executives can recharge. The chairs are programmed to gently sound an alarm that wakes their occupants after 20 minutes. In the long run, warns the expert, power-napping cannot compensate for a good nights sleep.
â€˜A short nap can be very beneficial if youâ€™re in a high-intensity job and you work long hours, or if you havenâ€™t slept well the night before. But we need to sleep for a good eight hours to be fully refreshed.