Naps: The Best Productivity Booster
Plus, Bardeen, the no-code app that automates shortcuts
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How to Take Naps to Improve Your Productivity
If you’re about to get up and make another cup of coffee. Skip it. Take a nap instead. Or drink it and take a nap right after.
I’m aware that not everyone can squeeze in a 30-minute nap, especially if you’re at the office or don’t have an async job where you’re not expected to answer right away. But if you have the chance, napping will give you more energy than caffeine.
After this issue, you’ll be fully aware of the many benefits of napping, how to nap properly to boost your productivity, and some tips to improve your levels of energy, even when you can’t nap.
Let’s dive in!
America vs productivity
Americans love to be productive. This study shows that “American full-time employees work 41.5 hours per week, and about 11.1% of employees work over 50 hours per week.” That leads to normalizing work and productivity as the core of your life, and while that’s not necessarily wrong, it can lead you to put other things aside, like resting.
When we interviewed Scott H. Young for an issue on how to become better learners, he shared that he was running a study on the most productive countries. The US was at the top of the list, and Canada, another developed country, was almost 15% behind it.
While productivity is crucial for a country and business’s success, obsessing over it can lead you to reduce your rest hours, hurting your efficiency, and burning out.
Rest and productivity
Let's double down on what it means to be productive. That is doing more with fewer resources or optimizing the resources you have to achieve more. Productivity is often confused with being busy and having a long list of things to do. But busyness is just that: having pending tasks that need your action. Productivity tries to reduce that list. There’s also a mix of productivity/busyness, and that’s when you’re productive but only so you can achieve more things.
When you have a lot to do, you will most likely sacrifice your rest or drink too many cups of coffee, tea, or energy drinks. And while productivity is about getting things done efficiently, you can’t shortcut your rest. Here’s a list of scenarios when you need to stop and rest:
When you’re so busy with work that you barely have any time left to eat or sleep
When you’ve just finished an exhausting project
When you feel like you’ve run out of ideas
When you can’t focus for more than a few minutes
When you just feel like it
While it feels counterintuitive to take a nap when you have a long, pending to-do list, resting is the only thing that will make you more productive. Resting is crucial for your productivity.
Importance of rest to improve your productivity
“Rest has a bad rap in our culture. Most of us think about rest as merely the absence of work—not something valuable in its own right,” wrote Alex Soojung-Kim Pang for the Greater Good Magazine. Some might even consider rest an activity only for lazy people. That’s not only a lie but a dangerous belief.
Resting is crucial for your cognitive functions to perform properly. When you sleep, your brain processes all the sensory information you get throughout the day. It helps you boost your memory, focus, and mood.
But sleeping eight hours a day is not the only way of letting your brain rest. Some others are:
Going into default mode network (DMN). This is a fancy way of saying “do nothing.” DMN is when you zone out and do a habitual task or simply sit down and relax. This allows your brain to chill for a while. This is one of the reasons why walking is a common recommendation to boost productivity. It allows your brain to zone out.
Sleep meditations. Your brain never really sleeps; that’s why you dream. But when your brain can’t go through the four sleep phases, you won’t feel well-rested. A good way to avoid that is by disconnecting before you sleep with a guided meditation. The simple act of consciously breathing can help you get a better night's sleep. Daily meditations can also boost your productivity.
Napping. Taking 10-30 minute naps can help your brain reboot and reconnect, helping you feel fresher.
How to nap to improve your productivity
Napping is dangerous. You can close your eyes for a few minutes and wake up three days later wondering whether you’re still in your living room or have discovered how to travel the multiverse. But when timed correctly, naps are truly powerful. Napping can help you:
Increase your energy levels and reduce tiredness
Help your memory formation
Improve your learning abilities
Improve your creative problem-solving skills and reasoning
Reduce stress and anxiety
Sharpen your eye for detail
Reduce mental fatigue
Improve your overall productivity
For midday naps to work properly, you should make sure you take either a short 10-30 minute nap or a 60-90 minute one. Going outside of that range may lead you to be more tired, or hurt your regular sleep cycle. Here’s how to take the perfect nap to boost your productivity.
1. Set up an alarm
Define the length of your nap. Is it going to be less than 30 minutes or 60-90 minutes? Once you have your answer, set an alarm and make sure to wake up as soon as it goes off.
2. Get in the mood
Try to set the room to fall asleep as fast as you can. Turn off the lights, close the blinds, turn on your white noise machine, or use a 5-minute sleep meditation.
3. Avoid napping late
If possible, take naps up to four or five hours before bedtime to avoid insomnia. The best time to nap is 8-9 hours after you wake up.
4. Wake up in time
This is — in my opinion — the hardest part of power napping. You have to wake up when your alarm goes off. If not, you might feel more tired afterward because you didn’t have a full sleep cycle.
5. Coffee naps
I’ve never tried this before, but it caught my attention. This practice consists of drinking a cup of coffee right before your 20-30-minute nap. That way, the caffeine kicks in right after you wake up. Wioletta Mosiej from Coffee Desk explains the science behind this practice:
When you drink coffee, caffeine is absorbed through the small intestine into the bloodstream. It then crosses the blood-brain barrier in approximately 20 minutes. Caffeine reaching the brain competes for a place on brain cell receptors that are normally associated with similarly shaped adenosine molecules. Adenosine is a byproduct of brain activity. Accumulated in large amounts, it causes fatigue in the body. Sleep naturally removes adenosine from the brain – so, when we are asleep, we usually don’t feel tired. By taking a caffeine nap, we will effectively remove adenosine from our brain, thus reducing competition for the caffeine stimulant. In this way, caffeine can bind to the receptors of the brain cells, blocking them against adenosine and thereby stimulating the body to function. So, sleep can enhance the effects of coffee by increasing the availability of brain receptors for caffeine.
This way, coffee naps help you mix the two elements that wake you up and use the combination as an energy booster.
Are you ready to try it?
Edited by: Lauren Maslen
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This Is The Ultimate Guide To Writing A Standout Résumé. - If you’re looking for another job, check out these tips for writing a resume that will stand out from the rest. Some of the tips Nicholas Hawkins shares include: keep it simple, avoid using a generic CV and tailor it to the job you want, and add soft and hard skills.
The Best Managers Don’t Fix, They Coach — Four Tools to Add to Your Toolkit. - When an employee comes up with a problem, it is always easier to fix it yourself than to teach them how to do it. But doing that won’t help them grow, and it will cause you to take on extra work. This article shares four coaching tools to tackle this problem and more — and to help you become a better manager.
Even Your Boss Wants To Quit. - The Great Resignation has caused millions of Americans to quit their jobs last year alone. Some reports are showing that 70% of C-level executives are also considering quitting as an option. Read more stats on this topic by clicking the title.
If you’re constantly finding yourself doing the same task over and over again, like Slacking a coworker while using Google Meet, then check out Bardeen. It’s a no-code app that helps you automate shortcuts. You can use the existing shortcuts, or build some for yourself. Read more about it here.
Suhail is an entrepreneur who invited people to ask him anything about conducting job interviews. If you’re a hiring manager, check out this thread. It will clarify a lot of your questions!
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
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The rise of the anti-work movement. - The pandemic has made everyone rethink their relationship with work. Is it really worth the pain some jobs cause? People have been taking that question seriously, and some have started a movement on Reddit called “anti-work.” This article explains what it means and what their demands are.
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FOOD CURIOSITIES & ADVENTURES
If you read the term ‘perpetual stew’ while reading Harry Potter, a bubbling black cauldron that endlessly refills itself might come to mind. But perpetual stews are more than a myth, and they exist in some of the top-rated restaurants around the world.
In fact, they are what a 3-year-old mole sauce from Mexico, a 45-year-old soup from Bangkok, and a 60-year-old broth from Japan all have in common. They’re all different types of perpetual stews — meaning they all use a soup base that is continually refreshed and/or added to daily.
Pujol, the Michelin Star-rated restaurant, has prepared 50 liters of mole madre, which is used until it gets low, when a new batch is prepared. The previous batch of the mole is then added to the new batch, incorporating its depth of flavor.
Wattana Panich in Bangkok similarly refreshes their soup daily in a pot that’s 5 feet wide and 2.5 feet deep. The prior day’s soup is prepared as the base of the current day’s soup.
Oden is Japan’s contribution to the world of perpetual stews. Otafuku, located in Asakusa, Tokyo is so dedicated to their broth that only a World War caused it to stop simmering in 1916. The latest batch has been used since 1945.
Styles differ but the results are the same: food that is made to be richer and more complex.
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