Naps are a great way to recharge our brains and boost our energy, but we don’t always have time for long siestas. Good news: Research published in Sleep suggests the best nap length is just ten minutes.
If done correctly, you wake up feeling refreshed and alert and now research shows that there are numerous health benefits! It’s no longer the guilty pleasure of the lazy or unemployed (or even the employed sneaking naps in during work hours). It will help improve job or school performance and makes you healthier.
THE NANO-NAP: 10 to 20 seconds Sleep studies haven’t yet concluded whether there are benefits to these brief intervals, like when you nod off on someone’s shoulder on the train.
THE MICRO-NAP: two to five minutes shown to be surprisingly effective at shedding sleepiness.
THE MINI-NAP: five to 20 minutes Increases alertness, stamina, motor learning, and motor performance.
THE ORIGINAL POWER NAP: 20 minutes Includes the benefits of the micro and the mini, but additionally improves muscle memory and clears the brain of useless built-up information, which helps with long-term memory (remembering facts, events, and names).
THE LAZY MAN’S NAP: 50 to 90 minutes Includes slow-wave plus REM sleep; good for improving perceptual processing; also when the system is flooded with human growth hormone, great for repairing bones and muscles.
Humans have consolidated sleep into one long period, but our bodies are programmed for two periods of intense sleepiness; in the early morning, from about 2am to 4am, and in the afternoon, between 1pm and 3pm. A 2007 study showed that those who napped twice a week reduced their CHD (Coronary Heart Disease) by 12%, and amazingly, if they napped three times a week, their CHD reduced by a whopping 37%.
- restores alertness
- prevents burnout
- heightens sensory perception
- reduces the risk of heart disease
- makes you more productive
- Leonardo da Vinci took multiple naps a day and slept less at night.
- The French Emperor Napoleon was not shy about taking naps. He indulged daily.
- Though Thomas Edison was embarrassed about his napping habit, he also practiced his ritual daily.
- Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, used to boost her energy by napping before speaking engagements.
- Gene Autry, “the Singing Cowboy,” routinely took naps in his dressing room between performances.
- President John F. Kennedy ate his lunch in bed and then settled in for a nap—every day!
- Oil industrialist and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller napped every afternoon in his office.
- Winston Churchill’s afternoon nap was a non-negotiable. He believed it helped him get twice as much done each day.
- President Lyndon B. Johnson took a nap every afternoon at 3:30 p.m. in order to break his day up into “two shifts.”
- Though criticized for it, President Ronald Reagan famously took naps as well.
Could these successful leaders know something you don’t?
Naps really do help. Find out how long you should nap in order to be most effective!