The Restorative Power of Catnapping

Have you ever watched a cat go through its daily routine? Chances are you've witnessed a lot of grooming, playing and chasing-and napping. In fact, cats sleep more than half of their lives away. But they don't slumber continuously for 16 hours. They sleep in long and short stretches through the day and night. When a vigorous activity has them fatigued, they plunk themselves down in a cozy corner-or wherever they happen to be-and sleep until they feel restored and ready to tackle their next challenge.

We could all take a cue from these practical felines. While humans don't need to sleep as much as cats do, the average person probably needs more rest than he or she gets. And if going to bed earlier or getting up later just isn't an option, the obvious solution is to sneak in a rejuvenating catnap during the day.

Perhaps you think of naps as a luxury reserved for babies, sick people, or the elderly. You, as a vibrant adult, should be able to power through your day without closing your eyes. But there are definite biological rhythms that govern our alertness over a 24-hour period, and it's been widely acknowledged that mid-afternoon is prime time for napping. Our bodies seem wired to doze after lunch. In fact, many countries, recognizing this universal need for rest, close offices and shops for several hours so workers can go home and relax.

But napping in America just isn't practical, you say. Consider this: Even a short snooze can have surprising benefits. According to the National Sleep Foundation, just 20-30 minutes of napping can boost alertness and performance while helping you feel relaxed and restored. And keeping your daytime slumber short will ensure that you'll sleep adequately at night. So go ahead and give in to what your body needs. Have a long drive ahead of you? Pull into a parking lot, tilt the seat back and doze before hitting the road again. If you feel guilty trying to catch a few winks during your workday, think of it this way--allowing yourself to rest will help you stop yawning and let you focus on that project you need to finish. Some progressive workplaces not only tolerate napping, they actually encourage it! If yours doesn't, you'll have to be creative. A private office helps, but even cubicle workers can "turn off" the outside world by shutting their desk lights and computer monitors, donning sleep masks, and playing soft music while resting their heads on their desks or against the backs of their chairs and breathing deeply. Once your coworkers and boss see how restored you are after half an hour of rest, they'll soon be scheduling their own daytime catnaps.


Source: National Sleep Foundation,