“Taking ‘naps’ sounds so childish, I prefer to call them ‘horizontal life pauses.’” – Will Ferrell

Naps aren’t always associated with kicking butt, but they should be. Studies have shown that a short daytime snooze, between 20 and 30 minutes in length, boosts alertness and performance without leaving you feeling groggy or interfering with nighttime sleep.

A NASA study found that a 40-minute nap improved pilot and astronaut performance by 34% and alertness by 100%. The takeaway: Whether you’re flying the space shuttle or shopping for a space heater, naps help you up your game. Just ask legendary guys such as Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Napoleon, Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison. All of them kicked butt — in one way or another — and all of them were dedicated nappers.

Want to make the most of a short, rejuvenating lie-down? Make sure:

  • Your sleep environment is a comfortable temperature. A sweaty or chilly snooze won’t last long.
  • The amount of noise and lighting levels have an impact on the quality of your nap. This will vary for each and every one of us, but simply closing your blinds and turning off the TV can improve the quality of your Zs.
  • Don’t nap too late or too early in the day. Mid- to late-afternoon has been shown to be the optimal nap time.

Tip: If you’re lacking sleep, a nap could help reduce your blood pressure and risk of heart attack.

So maybe Edison’s famous quote about genius should be amended to include “1% inspiration, 50% perspiration…and 49% naps.”