How does 2 p.m. sound? A recent sleep study conducted at the University of California at Berkeley showed that a nap at this hour restored subjects’ learning capacity, making them better able to process information at 6 p.m. In contrast, the learning abilities of non-nappers plummeted. In the Berkeley study, subjects napped for 90 minutes. However, research from Harvard University shows that just 30 minutes is enough to clear your head.
* We asked survey participants to tell us their one wish for spending free time. These categories reflect five of the most popular responses.
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I Just Want to Be Alone
“Close your office door or take a lunch break,” says Sherrie Bourg Carter, Ph.D., a psychologist in Fort Lauderdale and the author of High Octane Women ($13, amazon.com). “Being alone lets your brain refresh itself. You’ll feel best if you turn off the bells and whistles you’re conditioned to respond to.” (Bells and whistles = cell phones and e-mail.) And avoid screens. Vegging out in front of the TV or some other electronic device still keeps your brain active, says Bourg Carter.
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I Want to Get Out of Town
You don’t have to spend two weeks in Italy. Just a quick getaway “relieves the pressure of a day-to-day routine,” says Bourg Carter. She tells busy clients who can’t imagine taking a long trip to check into a hotel for one night. “Do you have to go to the office the next day? Yes,” she says. “But you don’t have to answer e-mails or bring work with you. And you don’t have to make the bed. Even on a short vacation, other people take care of you.”
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I Want to Go Shopping
Don’t hit the mall on a Saturday, when stores are the most packed, says Mark Ryski, the founder of HeadCount, a company that tracks retail analytics. “If you can go at, say, 10 a.m. on a Tuesday, you’ll get lots of assistance and have no lines,” he says. Not an option? Try Thursday night, when many malls extend their hours. (It’s busier but still better than the weekend.) “Plus, you’re less likely to encounter loud, large groups,” says Ryski. All the better for an experience that’s calming, not stressful.
5 of 5 Lucas Allen
I Want to Go to a Spa
If you can book your massage on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday morning, there are perks beyond the free tea. “Spas are quieter and have more appointment openings,” says Susie Ellis, the president of SpaFinder, a global spa resource. “Even the saunas are cleaner.” And when business is slow, longer treatments may be offered for the price of shorter ones.