The Habit Society

⚡️ To nap or not to nap

To: Society Members

Good Morning!

Special announcement. Our newsletter is getting a glow up and will be ready to show it all off next Monday. Now, she won’t only be well-read…

Also! We’re launching our next book club this month. If you want to join, fill out this short survey and drop your book suggestions. Hope to see you there!

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To Nap Or Not To Nap

Last week we made sure we all knew that stressing about sleep ≠ good sleep hygiene. We’re going to continue the sleep chat with a new area of discussion: biphasic sleep patterns.

Sleep habts

The definition… A biphasic sleep pattern, our apparent biological inclination, is a continuous long bout of sleep at night followed by a shorter midafternoon nap.

In Matthew Walker’s Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams, he makes sure to note how we humans, AKA homo-sapiens (wise-humans) are the most unique in our sleep patterns in the sense that we get a lot less of it than others in the homo genus.

How Did This Happen?

Compared to old and new world monkeys, including apes, such as chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas, humans grasp an ideal average of 8 hours, instead of the 10-15 commonly found across the animal kingdom. Due to the constant need to avoid being hunted by carnivores, humans adapted to a shorter yet more intense biphasic sleep pattern, with 8 hours at night supplemented by 30-60 minutes during the day.

Currently, most adults sleep in a monophasic pattern, aka, one long bout throughout the night. On top of it, most people across North America have seen their ideal eight hours reduced to an average of six, without any time for a 30-60 minute nap during the day. Modern society has separated us from what should be a preordained arrangement of biphasic sleep.

Sleep Habits

So, I’m Not Lazy?

One might mistake biphasic sleep (siestas) as a cultural phenomenon associated with either tapas or laziness. Matthew Walker argues that it’s actually a deeply biological drive. “All humans, irrespective of culture or geographical location, have a genetically hardwired dip in alertness that occurs in the midafternoon hours.” Helpful tip: never schedule an interview or presentation during the post-lunch-hour period.

Healthwise, the Mediterranean work schedule of 9am-1pm and then 5pm-9pm, followed by a light dinner and long tango, is the most conducive to our physical and mental condition. With the rise of globalization at the turn of the millennium, few areas of the Mediterranean still keep their siesta schedule intact.

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The Facts
Google Sleep Pod

In the early 2000s, after an increasing cultural and economic pressure to abandon the biphasic sleep practice in Greece, a team of researchers from Harvard University’s School of Public Health began quantifying the consequences. The researchers took a sample of more than 23,000 Greek adults, men and women, aged between 20 and 83 years old, who had suffered from a sudden, radical change in schedule, tracking the group’s cardiovascular health over six years. The result was a true Greek tragedy.

Although none of the individuals had a history of coronary heart disease or stroke at the start of the study, those who abandoned the siesta went on to suffer a 37% increased risk of death from heart disease across the six-year period. The effect was significantly more substantial in proletariat workingmen, who saw their mortality risk increase by well over 60% after abandoning the mid-afternoon nap.

Of course, other factors such as a healthy diet with little sugar and processed food, and daily access to good air quality contribute to this remarkable longevity. But, before we begin a mass exodus to southern Europe and northern Africa, we can make an instant change in our lives by taking at least 30 minutes in the middle of the day to put everything away, lie down, and close our eyes.

The shift is beginning. Companies such as Google, Facebook, Uber, and Ben & Jerry’s offer their employees sleep pods and nap rooms in the office and a time in the middle of the day to take a break to nap. Clearly, they want their workforce to live longer. It also probably makes the recruiting team’s job much easier.

Maybe now is the perfect time to have a chat with your boss about your work-life balance. Keep us updated 🙂

Last thing… Why did the tree take a nap? For-rest 🤣

For more incredibly satisfying nap puns, click here.

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