Do You Nap?

We'll be the first to admit it: we love naps. A lot. It runs in the family: our dad is able to nap literally anywhere, including on a sled in the Alps and in the car while someone else is driving. Our mom has been napping since we were infants -- much-needed naps when you have premature twins -- and she wakes up after her 15-minute power naps completely refreshed and ready to go. For many years, while working in-house, napping wasn't an option for Judy, even though she repeatedly suggested a nap room (her request was denied). Since we both started working on our business full-time, we are back to mid-afternoon naps a few times a week. We love them, and we think it makes us more productive. There's actually some solid research to show that there's some truth to that -- according to NASA, a 26-minute nap can boost performance by 34 per cent. Our naps tend to be a bit longer, but we do wake up ready to go. Many times, we just need a quick mental break from work. Alternatively, we go for a walk, but we find that napping works better to get us refreshed and relaxed. We've even heard about fellow court interpreters who head to their cars during breaks to take a quick nap. 

What about our colleagues? Do you nap? Do you feel that napping makes you more productive? We'd love to hear from you. Just leave a comment below.


María Eugenia Roca Rodríguez on March 22, 2011 at 8:47 AM said...

Naps are essential to me!!!! At least 20 minutes when I'm very busy with projects and like an hour or so when the workload is not so heavy.

It's funny to read that about your dad. My dad takes naps everywhere too!!! Maybe it's a dad thing! :)

Greetings from a nap lover translator from Buenos Aires!

Nathalie Reis on March 22, 2011 at 8:48 AM said...

I have never been able to nap (i.e. fall asleep in the day), but I try to have a break: lunch and News on television or a phone call to a friend or even a walk. When it is sunny, my big luxury is to to sit and read in my garden for half an hour.
I wish I could nap and relax, but unfortunately I cannot close my eyes and let go. Perhaps it is due to the fact that I need to be in perfect darkness and silence to fall asleep and you can't really get that in the middle of the day. Still I have always been envious of people who can fall asleep anywhere at any time and I am sure that you are more productive subsequently!

Tea Rose on March 22, 2011 at 9:27 AM said...

I love naps. The nap setting on my radio is set to 20 minutes. Then I make a tea. Then I'm far more productive than I was before the nap forcing myself to stay awake.

Antonio on March 22, 2011 at 9:28 AM said...

Absolutely, In fact this post got me in the middle of one. Back to work. If it weren't for these naps I would not be able to produce anything past 16:00

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on March 22, 2011 at 9:30 AM said...

@Nathalie: thanks for sharing. Yep, that's an issue -- needing complete darkness and silence. It's a good point you bring up. We don't always fall asleep completely, but we are able to relax and semi-sleep. Love your big luxury of sitting in the garden, smelling the flowers or a phone call and walk. In the summer, we also spent a lot of time in our backyard/balcony, respectively.

May Fung Danis on March 22, 2011 at 9:39 AM said...

That's one of the perks of working from home! I think it definitely improves work performance - provided you aren't attempting to make up for chronically missed sleep (otherwise, you tend to sleep for too long, and then wake up groggy). Though you should always put the phone straight to voicemail, or the untimely phone call from a client will leave you befuddled.

Kevin Lossner on March 22, 2011 at 11:13 AM said...

Nap? Absolutely. Only problem is I forget to take the phone off line and I answer in my sleep. Frequent clients have finally figured out the subtle clues that I'm "sleeptalking", though apparently I do usually make sense in that state.

I'm a big believer in Cary Grant's tip on longevity: "Eat when you're hungry, sleep when you're tired and ...."

Anonymous said...

Naps are critical for me too! With two kids and a workload that is constantly increasing, I need that midday break. Naps are for me short and sweet and totally refreshing!
Great post as always!

Marianne Reiner

Aga Gordon on March 22, 2011 at 1:29 PM said...

@Kevin - talking while you are asleep? I love it:))
I do nap ocassionally, I used to do it more, as I needed it both when my older one (14) was little, and when my little one (3.5 years old)was smaller. Now, I tend to work mostly when she has a nap (yes, I am lucky, she still does it) and in the evening and through the night. So I sleep as long as I can in the morning (usually until 8) and then just go on. As a result, I tend to have long sleeping sessions over weekend to catch up:)
Power naps are great, but I am not in favour of them, 5-10 minutes nap is simply not enough for me:)

Anja Green on March 22, 2011 at 3:03 PM said...

Great article! I could not imagine my days without my 20-minute power naps! Even during busy days, I will take the time and simply put my head down onto my arms on my desk. It takes me less than a minute to fall asleep and I wake up refreshed and ready to tackle my work.

Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo on March 22, 2011 at 4:49 PM said...

I wish I could take naps! I don't know that I would be able to recharge with a half-hour nap, but it would be nice. I prefer to get out for a bit and take a walk or go grab a coffee. For me, being around other people recharges me and then I'm ready to come back to work for several more hours.

Nelia on March 23, 2011 at 5:34 AM said...

I love naps too! Unfortunately I have to combine a day job and my part-time translation business for the moment, so it is virtually impossible for me...
But I try to take every chance I get to make a short nap, especially while on holidays.

Thomas Gruber on March 23, 2011 at 9:31 AM said...

I think a good nap can help doing bloody boring stuff before your mind starts the procrastinating program. You’ll wake up refreshed with more energy. As I'm not self employed I don't have the luxury of napping, but on the other hand I get paid anyway even if I'm procrastinating ;-)

Oliver Lawrence on March 23, 2011 at 11:04 AM said...

I find it difficult to nap during the day; meditation is more my thing though, and it brings similar benefits.

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on March 23, 2011 at 4:26 PM said...

@all: Thanks for chiming in, much appreciated! We just woke up from our nap, so we are catching up -- kidding.

Love @tea rose's idea of making tea upon waking up. Unlike @kevin, we try not to answer the phone in the middle of a nap. And we all know how that Cary Grant line ends. :)@May: good point about not trying to replace real sleep with naps -- that rarely works. @Antonio: yes, that seems to be the magical time of the day, isn't it?
@Marianne: we don't know how working moms do it. Our hats are off to you.
@Aga: we also liking long sleeping sessions over the weekend, and we don't have any kids! Kudos to you for juggling it all.
@Anja: wow, you might just take the prize for quickest-to-fall-asleep. We've never tried this at our desks (yet).
@Magdalena: coffee and walks are great, too. Actually, Judy's dog Luna looks like she wants to go for a walk. Then, she ALWAYS looks like she wants to go for a walk.
@Nelia: we understand the pressures of working two jobs. Perhaps you will be able to work for yourself full-time really soon!
@Thomas: any company is lucky to have you! Maybe you can suggest a nap room.

Sandra Mouton on March 25, 2011 at 6:19 AM said...

So, I'm not the only one to have naps even though their third birthday is long gone.
After lunch, my mind goes sluggish and I start making basic mistakes. Let me tell you, when you translate into a language whose spelling and grammar rules are as tricky as they are in French, that's when you want to take a break.
But 20 minute long power naps, I've never been able to manage. It's an hour and a half or nothing for me or I end up sleeptalking like Kevin for the rest of the day.
I've found efficient alternatives for these days when my workload prevents me for having a full length nap: having a long bath (presumably, after half an hour, the water turns cold, anyway), reading on a matter completely unrelated to your current translation project (fiction is best, especially Sci-Fi. After all, what are the odds of translating a text about the effects of the singularity on robots' libidos ;-)?) or if short on evil-AI-themed books, reading in a language that isn't the source text of the current project, for example a magazine. Or there is the option of doing the groceries if you're lucky to have shops next to you. In the middle of the day, the shops are less crowded and I discovered that pondering the merits of Cox apples over Granny Smiths was a great way to take my mind from, say, a case study on drilling equipment.
But back to your main subject, NAPS. I just had my lunch. I'll take my own advice and shut my eyes for an hour or so.
Great blog, by the way. I enjoy reading all your good tips about being a translator.

Sussex Coast Talking News on March 25, 2011 at 12:03 PM said...

No, I don't nap in the daytime. I prefer to go to the gym and work out for 40 minutes. That vitalises my brain and I work much better in the afternoons. But I nap in the evening, just after dinner. Then wake refreshed and ready for .... whatever the evening may bring.

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on March 25, 2011 at 2:49 PM said...

@Sandra: too funny, we are not alone! Our power naps are always at least an hour, too. We haven't perfected the art of the really-short power nap. And very true, sometimes a quick errand or just getting out of the house to get your mind off work is energizing. We do that a lot, too, and yes, you have to love the relatively empty stores mid-day. Beats the after-work rush for sure. Thanks for commenting and we are delighted to hear that you like our blog. Keep on reading. :)

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on March 25, 2011 at 2:50 PM said...

@Lucy: good point. Work-outs are fantastic, too, especially if the gym is nearby or if you can go for a run right from your home. With that, we are off to the gym because we need a break, too. :) Evening naps are wonderful as well, because we also work the night shift a lot on the American side because of the time difference with our European clients. Thanks for commenting. :)

Curri on March 26, 2011 at 3:46 PM said...

I am Spanish, so naps are a must for us :) As my first job was in-house, I could only nap on the weekends. Now that I work from home, I normally don't do naps but, if i feel tired and I don't have much work, I would go to bed and sleep for a while (I never use alarm clock when napping. I think, after the years, Spaniards have developed an internal clock of waking up whenever we want when napping... most of the times).

Also, it is very good for concentration. The recommended "siesta" should be between 20 minutes and 40 minutes. If you sleep more, you might feel even more tired after waking up. If you sleep less, it might not be enough. I personally can sleep two hours and wake up fresh as a rose :) (again, that is probably years of experience in doing siestas ^_^).

Anonymous said...

My granny used to kicked my friends away when they would come during nap time. My grandfather would come home from his Law office at 2 pm, disconnect the phone, wouldn't get up until 4 pm, and then go back to his office. @Curri, I know what you mean... I guess we inherited that from our Mother Land. No alarm clock for me, either. On the weekends, I am known for taking 3 hours naps. For this reason, during the week, while working, even though I very much need my naps, I restrain myself from doing it because I don't know how to get up after 20 or 30 minutes. The best way would be to just lay on a comfortable chair or couch, instead of your bed. But I yet have to master that habit. said...

The real trick is learning how to nap while translating at the same time.

I have been trying to perfect the technique for the last 25 years, with some moderate progress (it seems to work only when I translate communication software manuals).

José Carlos Gil on April 3, 2011 at 2:13 PM said...

Although I don't nap every day, there is something I love about working from home as a non-coffee drinker: that sudden moment in which your body says "I can't take it any more... I'm falling asleep" and, if you were working in-house you'd need about 10 horrible minutes of desperate fighting against your shutting lids in order to snap out of it quick before anyone else sees you in that nap-deprived condition.

But from home, when sleepiness starts nagging, I just let myself rest on the bed for 20-30 minutes of sweet siesta time (controlled by alarm, just in case).

A good way to control the shortest restorative siesta ever is to follow Salvador Dali's siesta ritual: rest on a chair while holding a spoon in your hand. Once it drops and its sound wakes you, you're energy will be sufficiently restored and you'll be ready to face reality again, newly refreshed :)

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on April 4, 2011 at 7:58 AM said...

@curri: that recommended time between 25 minutes and 40 minutes sounds perfect. Now, if we could only stick to it... :)

@atgtranslations: three-hour naps sound very, very familiar to us. We had a good laugh when you mentioned it, and we are glad we are not the only ones. ;)

@Patent Translator: brilliant. We'd love to know how to properly translate while napping. That would certainly increase productivity.

@Jose Carlos: love it! We must try Salvador Dali's technique. Thanks for reading and commenting on our napping post.

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