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The sad news of the passing of Roger Bannister , the first human being to run a four-minute mile, got me thinking about his legacy — not just as one of the great athletes of the past century, but as an innovator, a change agent, and an icon of success. Most people know the basic story of Roger Bannister, who, on May 6, , busted through the four-minute barrier with a time of three minutes, fifty-nine and four-tenths of a second.

But it was not until I decided to write about him for my book Practically Radical , and read a remarkable account of his exploits by the British journalist and runner John Bryant , that I understood the story behind the story — and the lessons it holds for leaders who want to bust through barriers in their fields.

Bryant reminds us that runners had been chasing the goal seriously since at least , and that the challenge involved the most brilliant coaches and gifted athletes in North America, Europe, and Australia. And like an unconquerable mountain, the closer it was approached, the more daunting it seemed. This was truly the Holy Grail of athletic achievement.

Bryant also reminds us that Bannister was an outlier and iconoclast — a full-time student who had little use for coaches and devised his own system for preparing to race.

What Breaking the 4-Minute Mile Taught Us About the Limits of Conventional Thinking

So the four-minute barrier stood for decades — and when it fell, the circumstances defied the confident predictions of the best minds in the sport. The experts believed they knew the precise conditions under which the mark would fall. It would have to be in perfect weather — 68 degrees and no wind. On a particular kind of track — hard, dry clay — and in front of a huge, boisterous crowd urging the runner on to his best-ever performance.

But Bannister did it on a cold day, on a wet track, at a small meet in Oxford, England, before a crowd of just a few thousand people. When Bannister broke the mark, even his most ardent rivals breathed a sigh of relief.

At last, somebody did it! And once they saw it could be done, they did it too. Then, just a year later, three runners broke the four-minute barrier in a single race. Over the last half century, more than a thousand runners have conquered a barrier that had once been considered hopelessly out of reach.

Planned napping also called preparatory napping involves taking a nap before you actually get sleepy. You may use this technique when you know that you will be up later than your normal bed time or as a mechanism to ward off getting tired earlier. Emergency napping occurs when you are suddenly very tired and cannot continue with the activity you were originally engaged in. This type of nap can be used to combat drowsy driving or fatigue while using heavy and dangerous machinery.

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Habitual napping is practiced when a person takes a nap at the same time each day. Young children may fall asleep at about the same time each afternoon or an adult might take a short nap after lunch each day. Most people are aware that driving while sleepy is extremely dangerous.


Still, many drivers press on when they feel drowsy in spite of the risks, putting themselves and others in harm's way. While getting a full night's sleep before driving is the ideal, taking a short nap before driving can reduce a person's risk of having a drowsy driving crash. Sleep experts also recommend that if you feel drowsy when driving, you should immediately pull over to a rest area, drink a caffeinated beverage and take a minute nap. Shift work , which means working a schedule that deviates from the typical "9 to 5" hours, may cause fatigue and performance impairments, especially for night shift workers.

John's Mercy Medical Center and St. Luke's Hospital in suburban St.

It's about tapping into a feeling

Louis, MO, looked at the effectiveness of taking naps and consuming caffeine to cope with sleepiness during the night shift. They found that both naps and caffeine improved alertness and performance among night shift workers and that the combination of naps and caffeine had the most beneficial effect. James K. Walsh, PhD, one of the researchers who conducted the study, explains, "Because of the body's propensity for sleep at night, being alert and productive on the night shift can be challenging, even if you've had enough daytime sleep.

In spite of these benefits, napping isn't always the best option for everyone. For example, some people have trouble sleeping any place other than their own bed, making a nap at the office or anywhere else unlikely.

The power of getting the small things right

Other people simply have trouble sleeping in the daytime; it could be that certain individuals are more sensitive to the midday dip than others — those who are may feel sleepier and have an easier time napping. Here are some other negative effects:. While research has shown that napping is a beneficial way to relieve tiredness, it still has stigmas associated with it. Though the above statements are false, many segments of the public may still need to be educated on the benefits of napping. A recent study in the research journal Sleep examined the benefits of naps of various lengths and no naps.

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The results showed that a minute nap produced the most benefit in terms of reduced sleepiness and improved cognitive performance. A nap lasting 30 minutes or longer is more likely to be accompanied by sleep inertia, which is the period of grogginess that sometimes follows sleep. By now you're probably thinking about ways to incorporate naps into your daily routine. Keep in mind that getting enough sleep on regular basis is the best way to stay alert and feel your best. But when fatigue sets in, a quick nap can do wonders for your mental and physical stamina. Home Sleep Topics Napping.

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Types Naps can be typed in three different ways: Planned napping also called preparatory napping involves taking a nap before you actually get sleepy. Tips A short nap is usually recommended minutes for short-term alertness. This type of nap provides significant benefit for improved alertness and performance without leaving you feeling groggy or interfering with nighttime sleep. Your sleep environment can greatly impact your ability to fall asleep.

Make sure that you have a restful place to lie down and that the temperature in the room is comfortable. Try to limit the amount of noise heard and the extent of the light filtering in. If you take a nap too late in the day, it might affect your nighttime sleep patterns and make it difficult to fall asleep at your regular bedtime. If you try to take it too early in the day, your body may not be ready for more sleep. Benefits Naps can restore alertness, enhance performance, and reduce mistakes and accidents.

I Lived By The One-Minute Rule For An Entire Week

Naps can increase alertness in the period directly following the nap and may extend alertness a few hours later in the day. Scheduled napping has also been prescribed for those who are affected by narcolepsy. Napping has psychological benefits.