“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.”
- National Institutes for Health, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Your Guide to Healthy Sleep. 2011. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/sleep/healthy_sleep.pdf
- Shankar A, Koh WP, Yuan JM, Lee HP, Yu MC. Sleep duration and coronary heart disease mortality among Chinese adults in Singapore: a population-based cohort study. Am J Epidemiol. 2008 Dec 15;168(12):1367-73. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwn281. Epub 2008 Oct 23.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18952563
Adam Bisby is a Toronto-based freelance journalist and father of two. His award-winning stories have appeared in The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and National Post newspapers, in magazines like Explore, Reader’s Digest, International Traveller and Canadian Family, and on websites including MSN, MSN Canada, and DontChangeMuch.ca. Visit Adam’s website for more details on his award winning work.