Walks and Naps for Power Breaks
  By Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D
People who follow the typical sleep-wake cycle (Sleep in the night and wake up in the morning), are biologically prone to feel energy gaps around mid-morning and mid-afternoon.  Thus, employees who work during the typical 9 to 5 shift, experience not one but two energy gaps at work.  They are also likely to experience additional energy gaps and the need for pick-me-ups depending on their physical and emotional health, diet, and the work environment.  Since convention dictates that employees not leave the company premises during their shift, staff rooms are equipped with such energy-gap-fighting devices as the coffee pots and vending machines.  

Students of the Living 201 Class know that coffee drinking, smoking, and snacking are the least effective ways to recuperate.  They give us a false sense of energy because substances such as caffeine, nicotine, or sugar give us a brief boost.  But then we "crash" to a level lower than what we started with.  We end up with a minus rather than a plus energy balance. 

Taking a "power nap" of 10 to 15 minutes, stretching for just a couple of minutes, 5 to 10 minutes of aerobics or. brisk walking for 5 to 10 minutes will provide greater and longer lasting energy for your body and brain than the stimulating substances such as, caffeine, nicotine, or sugar.  If you feel like snacking, eat some fruit and drink some water.  You will feel more refreshed, energized, and alert.  You don't have to give up your "vices" altogether, if you alternate between your vices and virtuous behaviors, you will be be 50 % better off right away.      

The National Sleep Foundation says that we feel sleepy between 2 to 4 p.m. because of a drop in body temperature.  The Foundation recommends a 15- to 20-minute nap that can restore alertness and memory and relieve stress and fatigue.  Some businesses are taking the recommendation seriously because they believe that power naps raise productivity.  Their employees bring in their mats and companies provide floor space.  

 While on the subject of power naps, sleep studies have shown that naps that exceed 20 or 25 minutes do not have the same restorative value for the body or the mind.  In fact, if you sleep longer than 30 minutes during the day time, you will wake up groggier and foggier.  

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