Struggling to focus on your work? Making silly little errors? It might be time for a nap.  The physical and psychological impact that sleep deprivation can have on us is quite staggering, with sleep expert Dr Nina Radcliff highlighting a few of the issues that can be caused by a lack of sleep:

*a weakened immune system

*impaired decision making ability

*a diminished ability to learn skills

*Reduced reaction times

*Increased likelihood that you will make a mistake[1]

Advice from the National Sleep foundation is that Adults aged between 24 and 64 should have between 7-9 hours of sleep per day[2].  According to ‘The Sleep Doctor’, the financial costs associated with lack of sufficient sleep are phenomenal:

“The financial costs of poor and insufficient sleep are staggering. Sleep problems cost many tens of billions of dollars each year to the U.S. economy. These costs accrue in several ways: missed work days, reduced productivity, higher rates of accident and injury, and greater reliance on health-care services—more doctor and hospital visits, higher prescription and over-the-counter sleep and other medication use.”[3]

If you aren’t getting enough sleep at night, don’t fret! Napping during the day – whether in the car, office or lazing in the sunshine (weather permitting, and don’t forget the sunscreen if you have found a nap spot in full sun!) -  also proves beneficial to body and mind.  According to, the optimal time for a ‘cat-nap’ is 20 minutes, as this length of sleep keeps you in the lightest stage of non-REM sleep (so easy to wake up from!) and has been proven to improve alertness, performance and enhance mood.  30-60 minutes nap time is apparently likely to result in feelings of ‘grogginess’, whereas 90 minutes of sleep is the equivalent of one full REM cycle and has been proven to boost memory and creativity[4].

When you work from home, are self-employed or run your own business, it’s easy for ‘normal’ working hours to go out of the window! With holiday and sickness cover a luxury that we can’t all regularly afford, it’s far too easy to work when you should be in bed getting some sleep! My advice is to put yourself first every now and then and invest in some simple ‘self-care’ – that is, climbing in to bed and switching off completely, whether for a nap of a full 9 hours of wondrous rest.

So next time you feel a little bit frustrated with a spreadsheet, or can’t get some software to work, why not take 20 minutes out for a power nap? It could be just what the Doctor ordered!

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