October 31, 2014
You snooze, you win
For the Herald
Eight reasons you should be proud to sleep on the job
Some forward-thinking (1) companies such as Nike and Google offer places for their employees to nap. But for most US workers, napping in the office is frowned upon (2). This is a shame given (3) the long list of benefits from an afternoon nap. Here are eight reasons why we should embrace and encourage naps during the workday:
1. Napping makes you more productive: research has shown that naps refresh our bodies, make us more attentive and improve our moods. Fatigue contributes to US$18 billion a year in lost productivity. And when tired employees go home, they're at an increased risk of being in a car crash.
2. You'll likely live longer: a 2007 study found that individuals who took a midday nap were more than 30 percent less likely to die of heart disease. Napping also has been shown to lower blood pressure.
3. Winston Churchill napped throughout WWII (4): the leader of a nation deeply involved in the most widespread war in human history snoozed as bombs rained down on the country he led, and still emerged on the winning side with a legacy of being a great leader.
4. Some of the best minds in history napped: if Churchill isn't a good enough celebrity endorsement (5) for you, how about Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Napoleon, or Albert Einstein?
5. You'll be more creative: research has found that REM sleep leads to a roughly (*) 40 percent boost in creativity.
6. Napping is natural: the overwhelming (*) majority of mammals sleep in short periods throughout the day. Humans naturally tire in the early afternoon, struggle to focus and experience an increased desire to sleep. Yet society only gives us one period of the day to sleep.
7. Napping is cheaper and more effective than coffee: we need that caffeine burst to stay alert, but there are tradeoffs (6). A study compared caffeine with napping on visual, motor and verbal memory. On caffeine, verbal and motor skills decreased, whereas napping enhanced performance across all three tasks.
8. Highly productive nations have embraced naps without negative consequences: "When we see people napping during lunchtime, we think, 'They are getting ready to put 100 percent in during the afternoon,' " said Paul Nolasco, a Toyota spokesman in Tokyo. "Nobody frowns upon it. And no one hesitates to take one during lunchtime either."
Adapted from a story by Matt McFarland, The Washington Post.
A good reminder of the use of hyphens, which this space covered several months ago: a “forward-thinking” company is one that thinks forwards and anticipates the future, or plan with an advanced perspective.
To frown upon something (2)
To frown is to bring your eyebrows (the hair above your eyes) together in a worried or angry gesture. To frown upon something or somebody means to disapprove of it.
Give-gave-given, right? Well, yes, but not quite. Used in this context, “given” means “considering that”.
You've probably seen this acronym in this newspaper many times, and you probably wondered what it stands for. In case you were wondering, it stands for “World War II” - and, yes, “WWI” stands for “World War I,” and the centennial is being commemorated this year.
To endorse something means to say publicly that you support, use and/or like something. It is often used in politics and advertising, where celebrity endorsements are a favourite tool to promote all kinds of products and services.
When there is a trade-off between two opposing situations, you balance the opposites: in this case, the advantage of staying alert with caffeine are balanced by its negative effects on verbal and motor skills.
(*) How much did you say? (part II)
Two weeks ago we talked about amplifiers and diminishers, those expressions we use to talk about how much (or how little) of something we are talking about. These two expressions are somewhat related, in that they say something about quantity, degree and certainty.
“Roughly” is an adverb that means approximately but not exactly. It can be used with figures (as in the example in the text), but also places, times or pretty much anything! It is a good alternative to “more or less,” a proper English expression that Spanish speakers tend to overuse.
Something overwhelming is very strong or very great, especially in a way that you cannot resist (overwhelmed with powerful emotion). An overwhelming majority is a very big one, so big that it cannot be resisted.
With all these words, there is no excuse for ever using the word “very” more than once in a paragraph!