A Horizontal Break can Change Your State

Posted by on Mar 14, 2016 in Blog |

Is there any health benefit in simply lying-down? No meditation, no napping, no active stretching, just lying there for a bit? As it turns out, adopting a horizontal pose can indeed deliver significant psychological and physiological benefits, especially for sedentary, computer-based workers. NapNow Founder Thea O’Connor offers 5 good reasons to change your posture from vertical or seated, to horizontal. 1. Diaphragmatic breathing is easier lying down, according to physiotherapist Jo Keers from the mid north coast of NSW. “Many people who sit down all day at a computer, really struggle to breathe diaphragmatically ie into the lower lobes of the lungs. Instead they breathe into the upper chest.” This pattern of shallow, upper chest breathing is associated with a whole host of health problems, including increased levels of stress hormones… as if we need more of that! “As soon as people lie down, it’s very rare not to be able to breathe diaphragmatically,” says Keers. “This healthier pattern of breathing switches on the parasympathetic nervous system, so is very calming.” You know you are breathing diaphragmatically if your abdomen rises when you breathe in, rather than your upper chest. 2. Lying down improves circulation. “You get better venous return of blood to the heart, than when sitting, as a result of diaphragmatic breathing. Blood flow to the brain is improved, as well as to the gut, so aiding mental clarity and digestion.” 3. You give your hip flexors a stretch. If you sit down all day, your hip flexors – a group of muscles near the top, front of your thighs that allow the thigh to be drawn upward during activity – become tight, while our bottom and abdominal muscles become weak. This is a recipe for chronic pain, in the hips, groin and/or back. Lying down on your back gives your hip flexors a passive stretch, and so helps prevent getting locked into this unhealthy muscle pattern. 4. Lying down improves your mood. Research into people who lie down for a nap, but don’t fall asleep, has found that people emerge in a better mood. So if you are a wanna-be napper, but find you simply can’t fall asleep, you can rest assured that it is still time well spent. 5. You can change your relationship with the world. When we change our posture from vertical to horizontal, our relationship to the world is transformed. When vertical, we literally face the world and its demands ‘head on.’ But when we lay our bodies down, the world becomes a place that supports, holds and restores us – how delightful!  ...

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Dr Neil Flanagan, Author and health ageing educator, NSW

Posted by on Mar 14, 2016 in Napper Profile |

“I’ve always been hooked on productivity, and searching for things that will really make a difference.  There’s a lot of ‘kids stuff’ out there like time management, but napping really works. I first saw the effects in my father, a produce merchant, whose job involved hard physical labour.  He would lie on the floor after lunch, and arise energised, even though he would never go into a deep sleep. I started napping in my students days when trying to find ways to be more productive. Then I used powernaps to help me transition from work to study.  For example in one job, I was learning Indonesian, and once a week I would have a 2-hour ‘immersion’ lesson.   I would have a nap at work first (I just closed the office door, and did it) and it worked a treat. Otherwise it felt impossible to go from normal work, then all of sudden speaking only Indonesian. When competing in professional athletics I would also take a nap before an event. Early afternoon is now my favourite time to nap – it’s a useful energiser, after my 5 am rise.  I sit down in a comfortable chair, nap for ten to 15 minutes, then wake naturally.   It’s such a handy tool to be able to switch off at will. It’s something so few people can do.”...

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Sleep-Cycle Apps

Posted by on Nov 16, 2015 in Blog |

Whenever I address the importance of sleep in one of my seminars on Personal Sustainability for Leaders and Teams, I ask if anyone in the audience has used a sleep-cycle app such as Sleep Cycle or Sleep Bot. There is always a handful of people who have, and their experience ranges from ‘so-so’ to ‘great – changed my mornings completely.’ So what’s at work here – the placebo or a real effect? Sleep cycle apps track your movement overnight in order to estimate the sleep stage you are in. It then wakes you in a light stage of sleep, making it much easier to get out of bed than if the alarm drags you out of a deep sleep-stage, which can leave you feeling groggy and disoriented. In practice this means you have to take your phone to bed with you, and you set your alarm with about a half an hour leeway, to allow for an optimal waking time. That’s the premise anyway. NapNow asked its scientific advisor Professor Drew Dawson for his opinion on these popular health apps. Dawson: “None of them have any validated or published data to support their claims, so the jury is out. However we do know you can’t detect sleep stage based on movement, you need to be monitoring brainwaves and eye movement to do that accurately. In sleep research, we do use acti-graphs (wrist-worn gadgets that track how much you move), but only to gauge how much overall sleep someone gets, and how much they wake up.  By and large people don’t move when they are asleep, except when they get to the end of a Rapid Eye Movement period (at about the 90 minute mark) when they wake up briefly and roll over and go back to sleep. We don’t used them to detect sleep stage.” So, what to do while the jury is out on these apps? Well, enjoy them by all means, especially if they seem to help you pay more attention to getting enough good quality sleep.  But don’t lose sight of the basics: If you need an alarm clock to wake up, you are probably sleep deprived. Aim to go to bed early enough so you can wake spontaneously – then you are probably getting enough sleep. That’s true except if have a depressive illness and can’t maintain sleep beyond about four or five hours. Focus on keeping a regular schedule. Your body thrives on predictability, to the extent that some mornings you’ll find yourself waking up just minutes before your alarm is scheduled to go off. If you get enough sleep but don’t want to get out of bed early in the morning, something else is...

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Greg Kelly, Paediatrician, Brisbane

Posted by on Nov 11, 2015 in Power Nap Register |

I am a paediatric intensive care specialist, artist and yoga teacher. I’m very interested in maximising the quality of my life and the lives of others in the broadest possible sense. Not only do I work long and unpredictable hours including nights and weekends but I am required to process lots of information, engage in very emotional situations and lead teams. Taking care of my body and mind greatly assists me in this and napping has long been part of my self care. I sleep for periods between 20 minutes and an hour in a few situations: – when I have been awake for 12 hours or longer – to emotionally reset – to lock information away when I have been studying – if I am sleepy in the afternoon. I still don’t find it widely accepted but that might be changing slowly! Interestingly there is a comprehensive Queensland Health policy that discusses naps in some...

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Karina Hall, Fishery Scientist, NSW

Posted by on Nov 11, 2015 in Napper Profile |

  I have long been a massive fan of a quick after-lunch power nap at work when my eyes are struggling to stay open, much to the amusement of colleagues and office mates. I usually use my dive wetsuit as a pillow (very comfy) and crawl under my desk (quieter, darker) for about 20 minutes. I don’t need to set an alarm, my body just seems to know when to wake up and then I can power on through a more productive afternoon. However, I must warn of a potential pitfall of this delicious habit, because it is quite surprising how many people come to your desk when you are apparently absent, even to the extent of stopping and using the telephone. This has led to the occasional embarrassing moment, but by far the worst occurred when I was completing a study abroad period at Woods Hole in America. I was under my desk having a quick power nap, when I was woken by voices. It seems my supervisor had brought a job candidate into my office to introduce us. Finding me absent, they proceeded to continue their interview with me now fully conscious under the desk trying not to listen in and wondering if it was better or worse to interrupt what was turning into quite a personal discussion. It was when they started to discuss potential salaries that I could no longer in good conscience stay hidden, so with a casual “Hellooooo” I crawled out from under my desk. To my Supervisor’s credit he barely batted an eyelid and just said, “Ah here she is” as if I had just walked in the door. After a quick introduction I left very red faced to allow them to conclude their interview. I think they just dismissed my behavior as the strange antics of a crazy Aussie. I remain a committed napper, and while my colleagues give me flack for it, it’s me that has a smile on my face at the end of the day.  ...

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