Amanda Ripley: “In this TEDx Talk entitled ‘Give It Up for the Down State,’ Sara draws from her research on the ‘up state’ and the ‘down state,’ the latter of which is key to replenishing our energy levels outside of sleep. Maybe you’ve never thought about the specifics of your naps this way, but it makes a huge difference.”
A few years ago I started to feel like journalism just wasn’t working the way it was supposed to—it was hard to know how to be useful in an age of outrage and division. That led me to write a book about how people get out of really intractable conflict… which then turned into an opportunity to host How To!.
I love the way the show solves problems, rather than just lamenting them. And I love the way it brings the listener right into the studio with the journalist and the experts, so we can all just huddle up and try to figure it out. It’s a show that is low in ego and high in curiosity, which seems well-suited to this moment in time.
Our latest episode was sparked by an email we got from a listener in the UK. Rob is a father of two children who are “90 percent wonderful and 10 percent absolute terrors.” At the end of the day all they want to do is play, but Rob is absolutely exhausted from a busy work day. He’s tried taking naps, but it usually just makes him more tired. So we dug into the latest sleep science and brought on Sara Mednick, author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life to try and help. Along the way, Sara shared some pretty fantastic resources to make napping work the way you want it to. And ultimately, feel better, more rested, and like a more active part of your own life. I’m excited to share some of the highlights from our chat, and hope you come away from this collection primed for a sweet 26-minute snooze. --Amanda Ripley
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AR: “The science suggests access to nature is essential to human health, which is why Sara recommends a daily walk in nature. Elderly adults tend to live longer if their homes are near a park or other green space, regardless of their social or economic status. Residents of public housing complexes report better family interactions when they live near trees. These are only a few of the findings from Frances Kuo, a professor of natural resources and environmental science and psychology at Illinois, who studies how environmental factors, such as access to nature, may influence social, psychological and physical health. I dare you to not schedule a walk after reading this.”
AR: “Rob says raising children seems to take more time than ever before, a finding supported by this study from Valerie Ramey and Garey Ramey, economists at the University of California, San Diego. As a college degree became increasingly necessary to earn a middle-class wage and as admissions grew more competitive, parents began spending significantly more time on child care.”
AR: “Have you ever felt so exhausted, you almost feel drunk? Sara pointed to this study that found moderate sleep deprivation produces impairments in cognitive and motor performance equivalent to legally prescribed levels of alcohol intoxication.”
AR: “This summary of Sara’s book by Philosopher Notes’ Brian Johnson highlights the fascinating origin of the word siesta and why the ancient Romans generally took a nap six hours after they woke up, preschool style.”
AR: “Have you ever taken a nap and woke up feeling even more drained than before? It might be because of your nap length. The National Sleep Foundation recommends a 20 to 30 min nap (specifically 26 min) because that’s long enough to get enough stage 2 sleep without risking going into slow-wave.”
AR: “Yes, there is such a thing as ‘insomnia brain.’ Here, Nature gets into the impact of frequent napping and nap practice on sleep-dependent memory in humans.”
AR: “Sara, a proud napper herself, hopes companies will allow employees to continue to work from and nap at home after the pandemic. ‘Napping is not what lazy people do,’ she says. ‘It’s what people who are really effective and creative and self-regulating and conscientious do. Those are the type of people who nap.’”
Amanda Ripley is host of the podcast How To! She is an investigative journalist and a New York Times bestselling author. Her latest book is High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped and How We Get Out. Ripley’s previous books include The Unthinkable and The Smartest Kids in the World. She also writes for The Atlantic, Politico, The Washington Post, and other outlets. Ripley grew up in New Jersey and now lives in Washington, D.C.