24/03/2013 20:10 GMT | Updated 24/05/2013 06:12 BST

Can Britain Learn to Embrace Power Naps?

Sleep is one of the most important things our bodies need, yet often what we cut out when we are burning the candle at both ends. If you find yourself fighting fatigue during the day, try taking a power nap.

Research indicates that a short 20-minute snooze is all it takes to lower stress hormone levels and super-charge your stamina. Naps been proven to be beneficial to your heart, hormonal maintenance and overall cell repair. They are brilliant at helping combat burnout. Napping also increases your creativity, productivity and alertness.

How realistic is it though for people to sleep at work? It all seems to depend on what country you work in. The Spanish have long been known to take naps in the middle of the day, with their extended lunch break 'siestas'. In Japan, staff often take a snooze to help sustain themselves when working long hours, and in the US forward thinking companies like The Huffington Post, AOL, Google and Cisco provide places specifically for their employees to go and rejuvenate by catching 40 winks.

In the UK however, the concept of power naps has until now been met with some resistance. In a recent interview Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of the Tax Payers Alliance referred to power naps as an 'absurd' idea. Throughout history however, some of the greatest leaders both in Britain and across the pond have attributed their sustained success to the routine of taking a nap. In Churchill's words: "Nature has not intended mankind to work from eight in the morning until midnight without that refreshment of blessed oblivion which, even if it only lasts 20 minutes, is sufficient to renew all vital forces".

What British companies need to realize is that making napping acceptable in the work place could help them gain the competitive advantage during tough economic times. Organisations in the UK require a cultural corporate shift in order to embrace the benefits of power naps. Ideally for this kind of change to take place the example needs to come from the top down, so if you work for a British firm and want to enjoy a snooze in your lunch hour send this article across to your boss today!

How to take a power nap:

1. Be Creative - Naps can be taken almost anytime, any place if you get creative. An associate of Thomas Edison claimed that Edison's "genius for sleep equalled his genius for invention. He could sleep anywhere, anytime, on anything". Keep a pillow under your desk and look for an empty meeting room at lunchtime. If everything appears occupied try finding a space at the back of a nearby yoga or pilates class so you can nod off for a while undisturbed!

2. Feel Safe - Our primal instincts can prevent us taking a nap if we are sensitive sleepers and don't feel relaxed in our environment. Do what you can to reduce distractions if you have your own office lock the door, pop in some earplugs, wear an eye mask, or close the blinds.

3. Set an Alarm - You will relax and drift off more easily if you know that you are not going to sleep through an important meeting or miss the last stop on the bus. Set an alarm to wake you up after 20-30 minutes.

4. Avoid Caffeine - Caffeine disturbs sleep. For your nap to have best effect, avoid drinking caffeine four-five hours before you snooze. Taking a nap will re-energize you far more than a cup of tea or coffee can.

5. Permission - Release any inner gremlins telling you that you are 'lazy' for napping. Remind yourself of the benefits, according to a study by NASA taking a nap can increase cognitive function by up to 40%! Now there's reason to snooze!