The Powerful Value of Naps

Exhausted woman Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

Most Americans are not.  In fact, 40% of the US population is sleep-deprived.  According to the World Health Organization, less than 7 hours a night is considered a carcinogen, cancer-causing agent.

 

If you get less than 7 hours, you are:

•3 times more likely to catch the cold or flu
• likely to carry an extra 20 pounds of weight
• 4 times more likely to have a stroke over age 45.

What's the solution?  For many people and more and more companies- naps!

I love naps.  I hated them when I was a kid, but today, I find them rejuvenating and energizing.  Naps work!  And there is a great deal of research to support it.

Naps of half an hour or less don't interfere with sleep patterns, and  can restore clarity, alertness, and memory.  Albert Einstein was a big fan of naps. Zappos.com has a nap room and employees are encouraged to use it regularly.  More and more corporations are providing nap rooms.  Many railroads have them, and even Ben and Jerry’s believes in naps.

An exhausted employee is an ineffective and possibly dangerous employee. Both Chernobyl and Three Mile Island were related to sleep deprivation.

Sara Mednick, author of Take a Nap, Change Your Life, says a 20 minute power nap is very light and easy to wake from, and good for your motor memory.   A nap of 20 - 60 minutes is slow wave sleep, which is restorative.  It promotes muscle and tissue growth, as well as memory  performance.

“Sleepiness alone costs the American economy and employers about 18 billion dollars a year,” says Darrel Drobnich of the National Sleep Foundation in Washington, DC.  So why not address that proactively and provide a nap space at work?

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Are You Burnt-Out? The Top Ways to Find Out…


 

Stressed out Woman pulling her hairOne third of Americans say they are living with extreme stress.1 Career Builder.com says that 78% of all American workers feel burned out (not just stressed.) Nearly 80% of all doctor visits are stress-related and 43% of all adults have ill health because of stress.

Stress is linked to the six major causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung disease, accidents, cirrhosis, and suicide.2  How about you?  How are your stress levels?

Check any questions that apply to you:

- You come home regularly dead-tired with little or no energy.

- The concept of vacation is inconceivable to you- you have way too much to do to go away.

- You don't have time to exercise regularly or participate in your favorite hobbies.

- You snap at your loved ones and friends fairly often.

If 3 of the above are true for you, you may be hovering near burnout.


1. Being continually exhausted. Whether you are getting less than the 7 hours a night of sleep (the minimum to prevent cancer according to the World Health Organization) or you are working very long hours, this symptom is a wake-up call. Get a medical check-up, consider vitamins and supplements, and spend more time in play, in addition to getting more sleep.

2. Vacations: Expedia found that 34% of Americans don’t go on vacation at all!What’s scary about that is for women aged 45-64, two weeks of vacation cut their incidence of heart attack in half! 3 Expedia found most people feel rested and rejuvenated after vacation, are more productive and more satisfied with their marriages.  A coach in Canada discovered that when his clients doubled their vacation days, they doubled their income.4

3. Exercise- You know exercise is good for you, improves your memory and slows the aging process.  But did you know that it can also reduce stress reduction and increase joy? The Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports reported that runners were 70 percent less likely to experience high stress and life dissatisfaction.  You don’t have to run, but do something physical at least 30 minutes 4 days a week.  Tufts Health and Nutrition Letter says even a sometime workout can reduce the risk of heart failure by 18%.

4. Relationships are key.  Snapping at loved ones destroys relationships. Whether they’re family or friends, they are critical to your health and well-being.  Spending time with friends creates the release of oxytocin, a neurotransmitter that relieves stress and promotes euphoria.  Those who had the most friends over a 9 year time period cut their risk of death by 60%.5 Whether with a friend, partner, a parent or relative, a key indicator in two different happiness studies demonstrate that strong friendships and connections lead to joy.6

Whatever you can do to change your life, reduce your stress levels and increase your joy is going to make a big difference, both in the short and long-term.  Take care of yourself and the rest of your life will come into much better balance.

Sources:

1. “Stress in US Rises, Causes Health Problems,” The Scoop, The Meeting Professional, March 2008, p.442.

2. Anschuetz, Barbara L. Dr, “The High Cost of Caring- Coping with Workplace Stress,”http://www.epilepsyontario.org/client/EO/EOWeb.nsf/web/The+High+Cost+of+Caring+-+Workplace+Stress

3&4. Brown, Sarah,  “Clean Break,” Vogue, June 2003

5. &6. Taylor, S. E.; Klein, L.C.; Lewis, B. P.; Gruenewald, T. L.; Gurung, R. A. R.; & Updegraff, J. A.                “Female Responses to Stress: Tend and Befriend, Not Fight or Flight”, Psychological Review (2000), 107(3), p.41-429.

Top Five Stress management Tips

Stress express book coverMost of you know I have just written a new book Stress Express! 15 Instant Stress Relievers!(http://www.stressexpressbook.com) After researching burnout for over a decade, partly due to having experienced a great deal of stress personally, I have found several stress management techniques that really make a difference in terms of decreasing anxiety, preventing burnout and helping you feel better fast.

Here are my top 5 stress management tips! Let me know which works best for you!

Sleep!The World Health Organization is considering labeling less than 7 hours of sleep a carcinogen- a cancer-causing agent! That's how dangerous it is! If you get less than 7 hours, you are at a cognitive disadvantage, and are prone to weight gain and sugar issues. 40% of Americans get less than 7 hours a night- are you one of them? Try going to bed earlier- no phones, no TV, just a quiet dark room and settle in 1 hour before you want to sleep so your mind can quiet down.
DO NOT check your email before bed!

Laugh! Little children laugh 400-500 times a day; most adults laugh 7-10 times. One study showed that one big belly laugh is equal to 45 minutes of stress relief. Laughter also extends your life by improving your immune system, lowering your blood pressure and improving your brain function. We could all up our laughter quotient. Try listening to comedy channels on satellite radio, watching the comedy channel, or asking friends if anything funny has happened to them recently. Play comedy CD's in the car when driving in rush hour traffic and watch your tension melt away.

Optimism Did you know that optimists live 7 years longer than pessimists,have better lung function and are far less likely to die young or die from cancer? Several studies from NIH and Yale demonstrate this. Pessimists are 25% more likely to develop heart disease. And since optimism is 75% learned, you can shift if you have been a negative thinker up until now.

Creative Expression! No matter how you like to express your creativity, from dancing, painting, singing, playing an instrument, writing, gardening, woodworking, scrapbooking, etc., creative expression keeps you in the present moment, free from worry about the past or future. Women with creative jobs have the cardio-vascular fitness of someone 6 years younger. And listening to music can reduce your depression by 25%, according to a study in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.

Volunteer. Doing something for someone else less fortunate instantly changes your perspective and makes you grateful for your life. Research shows that volunteerism, relieves depression, improves interpersonal skills, increases your longevity and strengthens the community. There are infinite ways to volunteer, from helping your neighbor care for their pet to working in a soup kitchen to building houses for Habitat for Humanity. Get involved and see what a difference it makes in your life.

Have a fantastic week, filled with good stress-relieving activities. Stay Fired Up!