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Eighty-five percent of all mammals are polyphasic sleepers, which means that they sleep in short bursts, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Humans are monophasic, meaning that they divide the day in two sections, for the most part: asleep and awake.
However, some of our best and brightest minds, from Thomas Jefferson to Albert Einstein, swore by naps, and research suggests that a short daily snooze can improve everything from our physical health to our job performance.
To get maximum benefit from your afternoon Zzzs, do the following:
1. Keep it short. Twenty to 30 minutes is ideal; longer than that, and you'll get groggy and negate the benefits of getting extra rest.
2. Make your environment restful. Darken the room, isolate yourself from noisy distractions, and make sure the temperature is neither too hot nor too cold.
3. Choose the right time of day. Don't schedule your nap for too late in the day, or you might find that your snooze gets in the way of your regularly scheduled nighttime slumber.
4. Beware sleep inertia. The National Sleep Foundation defines this as "the feeling of grogginess and disorientation that can come with awakening from a deep sleep." There's no way to prevent sleep inertia, but if you know you're not at your most alert shortly after waking up from a nap, don't schedule your rest time right before a big presentation or a meeting with the boss.
5. Follow the rules. Napping still has a stigma attached to it at many companies, so make sure you're not going to get on the boss's bad side by catching a few winks during the day.
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