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How to resist afternoon drowsiness at work
Specialists from around the globe consider the questions of how much time a man should sleep at night, when it is better for a person to go to bed and wake up differently. There are contradictory arguments for this. However, they univocally agree in opinion that a daytime nap is extremely important and useful for a man’s wakefulness during the second part of a day.
Even if you have quite a busy schedule, you won’t regret about devoting 15-30 minutes to a daytime nap. This time will be enough for you to feel refreshed and be ready to get down to work again. During this period of time, a man enters the first and sometimes the second sleep stages: muscles become totally relaxed, a heart rate and body temperature start to drop, all organism’s processes (including metabolism) slow down considerably; organism begins to compensate energy losses.
Pay attention that it is not recommended to have a nap longer than 40-45 minutes because then it is extremely difficult to wake up. Why? Because some people can manage to enter a deep sleep stage during this time. After awakening from it, sleep inertia follows (a man wants to sleep even more; he/she does not feel rested; alertness and concentration are on a too low level for a descent work).
Experts connect the necessity to rest in the afternoon with a human organism’s exhaustion that comes in approximately 8 hours after awakening.
The Spaniards (as well as the peoples of Latin America and the Philippines) treat such weakness with understanding – they have siesta. Siesta is a short period of daytime which is devoted to napping or relaxing in some other ways. Siesta usually comes after dinner because then blood flows from a nervous system to a digestive one that causes drowsiness. Moreover, it helps people who live in the countries with a warm climate to survive the hottest time of a day.
Unfortunately, in the most Western countries to have a rest in the middle of the day is not acceptable. That is why workers usually have to poison themselves with caffeinated beverages, energizers, etc. to preserve power and lucidity of mind at least while they are at work.
It is good news that recently more attention to the need of workers’ daytime rest has been drawn. According to the results of investigations, a daytime nap increases workers’ productivity by 30 percent. That’s not it. It reduces the risk of becoming depressed and nervous that, in its turn, can trigger a range of neurological and heart diseases. If a worker feels good both physically and mentally, it also reduces company’s expenditures on sick-leaves and prevents from turnover of employees (it helps to keep a company on a descent level and save its face). Many perspective and successful companies such as Google, Apple, Nike, Procter & Gamble, etc. consider it as a good idea to introduce an innovative approach to a working schedule.
What is this innovative approach?
Now, some companies (including mentioned above) create in their offices additional rooms that look nothing like common working areas. They are designed for the workers who do not have enough power to continue working and need to have a short rest.
For example, such rooms can be provided with several nap booths (nap capsules, nap pods). A nap capsule resembles a bed and arm-chair in one that is covered with a dome (above your head and the upper body part) which makes you feel cozy and a little detached from the fuss around. You get your personal space that is isolated from bright light and noise. A nap capsule is semi-enclosed that is why it is appropriate even for people with claustrophobia.
There is a special surface inside each capsule which adjusts to a particular body shape. When a person is lying there, his/her head and legs are a little raised. Such a position is extremely useful for a man’s back (it reduces pressure on it), spine and blood circulation. As a rule, about 20 minutes are enough to feel yourself as a totally another person – refreshed and with a clear mind.
However, in some companies such an experiment with nap booths turned to be rather unsuccessful and made them suffer great losses. That’s why they had to reject this idea. The thing is that some people did not feel the burst of energy or relief after taking a short nap. On the contrary, their condition was aggravated and they had to resort to other methods which could keep them awake. Sometimes, the reason for feeling ruined was that company members were sleeping there more than it is recommended (more than 30-40 minutes).
When you feel tired or drowsy but you don’t have an opportunity to fall asleep at that moment, try to do physical exercises. Scientists say that when a man’s muscles are loosened up, brain takes it as an example and also begins to work quicker because oxygen level increases and blood circulation improves. That’s why a person becomes more attentive and cheerful.
There was conducted an experiment. Specialists investigated an awakening effect produced by a bar of chocolate and walking. They came to a conclusion that chocolate energizes a man for approximately an hour and walking – for at least 2 hours.
If we devote a few minutes to walking or stretching, it will be beneficial not only to our physical health but for mental as well. Distraction is a pretty important and influential part of each person’s working day (no matter how paradoxical it sounds). Switching activities lets our eyes rest for some time and our muscles relax (or set in motion other muscles groups to share tension) that keeps us from becoming exhausted quickly. Also, it makes us remember that there are other things too (they are special for every single person) work apart. This recollection won’t let you be depressed and bored to death.
The authorities of some companies realize all this and make everything to provide their employees with ultimate comfort. They do not feel confused at the thought that a few minutes from their workers’ working schedule will be spent on something else but hard and scrupulous work - they understand that no brilliant idea will cross an exhausted or sleepy man’s mind ever.
That is why Larry Page and Sergey Brin encourage their employees in distracting themselves from work in any possible way. Each Google office all over the world is provided with appropriate facilities for this.
For example, Googleplex (the Google Corporation’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, US) has:
tennis and volleyball courts
soccer and Frisbee golf fields
rooms with table tennis and football
areas for PlayStation playing and TV watching
etc. available 24/7.
Google must be so successful, innovative and full of millions of creative ideas because its people are such.
At some companies, office workers have definite period of time (more often it lasts from 3:00 till 3:30/4:00 p. m.) which they should spend walking in fresh air.
If you are a person who cannot survive the rest of a working day without taking at least 10 minute nap after a lunch/dinner, then you may try using head-covering cushions (if such breaks for a nap are allowed at your office of course).
A head-covering cushion protects you from unnecessary noise and light of your surroundings. It will help you to relax and take a nap before getting down to work again.
Furthermore, head-covering cushions can be rather useful not only in office but also in public transport, at school or college during a break, at airport when sometimes we have to wait a few hours for our flight, etc.
Taking a nap is a perfect variant to get additional energy to continue an efficient work in the second part of a day (mind that it should be done sensibly!). Unfortunately, it is unacceptable for most companies as can be any other way of fighting against afternoon drowsiness.
Still, if such practice is quite common in your office, you can use nap booths or head-covering cushions to abstract your mind from the problems and fuss around you for some time.
It is also very useful for your muscles and a sleepy mind to walk a little bit around and do some physical exercises.