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Don't underestimate the power of a good nap

Aug. 27, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

In a world where 34 percent of employees work 41 to 60 hours a week, spend up to 80 hours a month commuting and the average working parent sees his or her family for only about 1.2 hours a day, chances are you're feeling a bit weary by midafternoon. Energy drinks? Well, coffee's good for you, but here's our suggestion for reclaiming your workday energy: the 10-minute nap, either at your desk, at the gym or in your car in the parking lot. It matters not where, as long as you are peaceful and relaxed. The benefits: enormous.

Each brief 10-minute dive into stage 1 sleep (optimally between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.) sharpens focus and memory, reduces stress (helps your heart and spares you inflammation) and increases your productivity. Another bonus: That brief length doesn't make you groggy when you wake up. On weekends or at home, you might sleep a bit longer and still wake up refreshed.

If you want to gain the benefits -- and you're not a natural born napper (you know who you are!) -- here's how to get into the swing of a short, refreshing episode of detachment and relaxation.

1. Find a quiet spot. Set an alarm for 10 minutes. Eventually you'll be able to wake yourself up after the 10 minutes is up.

2. Use eye shades if it's not dark.

3. Concentrate on breathing. Let your thoughts flow. Notice them, but don't focus on them.

4. Focus on tense muscles, and imagine them relaxing. Breathe slowly. Drift.

There! Didn't that feel refreshing?

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Medical Officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For more information go to www.RealAge.com.