Napping is for old people.
I’ll sleep when I’m dead.
How many times have you heard that? Ever since Arnold Schwarzenegger told everyone to “sleep faster if you’re in bed for 8 hours” or Donald Trump saying “How does somebody that’s sleeping 12 and 14 hours a day compete with someone that’s sleeping three or four?”, people have been trying to take time for sleep and use them for *productive* means.
Is it really a good idea to sleep less to be more productive? Does napping not work anymore?
No, not at all. Getting enough sleep is more important than ever and napping still is a great way to be more productive, alert, creative and healthy. The people who can get by on 4 hours of sleep are genetic outliers—and if you’re reading this, you probably aren’t among them.
What does this mean for productivity hackers and health enthusiasts?
It means that if you’re looking to live a healthy life—a productive life—that sleeping less is not one of the magical things you can do to achieve that.
Every hour of sleep that you miss has consequences in regard to your focus and functioning. And the sleep debt you’re creating might even never be repaid fully.
It’s really a shame that we as a society have so much distractions that sleep falls along the sideway.
I get it, life is hectic and most of us are juggling so many balls (health, work, friends, family and hobbies), that it’s tempting to sacrifice those ‘useless’ hours in bed.
Not to talk about Netflix who officially claimed sleep as its main competitor.
One look around the metro in a big city in the morning shows that we’re on our way to becoming a sleepy caffeine-driven zombie nation…
What if you could take advantage of this?
You know… the ones who actually get enough sleep, wake up with energy, full focus for the day and actually thrive in our hectic society.
In this guide, I’m going to show you how to use powernaps to get more out of life.
Getting more out of life is NOT a matter of doing more things in the 24 hours you have each day. It’s about doing the right things…
Power naps are a valuable weapon in your arsenal
Naps are one of the few things in life that don’t cost much time—and have tremendous benefits for your health and mind.
You can lay down for 20 minutes after lunch (when you’re not productive anyway) and wake up ready to go with full energy.
The only thing that’s keeping most people back is the old beliefs that napping is for old people, that real adults should be able to get through the day normally.
So we throw more coffee at our sleepiness.
For my own life, my afternoons and evenings are so much more rewarding and productive if I take a nap after lunch. It’s just 10 to 20 minutes, and it clears my mind and gets me ready for the second half of the day. Taking a nap gives me a reset for the day, a second chance.
If you picked up this guide, you’re miles ahead than the majority of people out there. Not many people know how to nap properly. They try it for 2 days, oversleep their nap, become incredibly groggy, and claim that napping just doesn’t work for them.
Napping might be the most powerful ‘skill’ for boundless health
Getting good sleep is one of the biggest factors for great health. If you know how to get enough sleep—whether that’s only at night or with naps—you are set up for a life of health and focus.
Put simply, if you know how to get enough sleep, your cells repair themselves faster, you become less sick, have more energy and even less chances of dying.
If there would be a supplement that costs 20 minutes to prepare and in return you’d get:
- Better focus
- Higher productivity
- More creativity
- Less chances of heart disease
- Healthier organs
- Better hormone balance
- And more energy
Wouldn’t you buy it immediately? That is exactly what a quick powernap can do for your life.
Sure, sleep won’t cure all your problems. Not getting enough will surely make you less able to cope with them.
What you’ll learn in this guide ( + short overview )
In this guide, I’m going to explain HOW to become more focused and healthy through using naps.
We’ll go over the 10 benefits that napping has for. Both the long-term effects, as well as the immediate benefits that having a quick nap has on your mind.
Then we’re going to discuss the 7 different lengths of naps and how they affect you.
After that, we’ll take a look at the 5 steps you must take to get the most out of your powernaps (and how you can fall asleep FAST).
In the final chapter, I’ll guide you step-by-step through which nap is the most suitable for you and how you can get started with it right away.
The best part about napping is that it doesn’t cost much time, it’s pleasurable and it has so many countless benefits that are hard to get any other way.
Let’s get started!
Chapter 1: Ten Ways Power Napping Makes You More Productive and Healthier
Since sleep is one of the important things in your life, there are countless benefits to getting enough shut-eye time. What if you don’t get enough? In that case powernaps are here to help you.
Below you’ll find 10 of the most important benefits of taking a quick nap. The great thing is that napping is both good for long-term health—and you’ll also experience immediate benefits from taking a sleeping break.
They say that there are no free lunches, but the closest thing we’ve got as humans is the powernap.
It’s important to notice though, that many of the benefits of powernaps come from helping you to catch up on sleep that you didn’t get through the night. Although many studies also found that napping does have additional benefits, even if you already got enough sleep at night.
Immediate benefit #1: Increased productivity, alertness & concentration
Looking for an easy way to get more out of your working day? NASA has done a study on pilots who took a nap of 26 minutes each day, and found that this nap improved performance by 34% and alertness by 54%.
Even if you don’t have as much responsibility as an astronaut on the job (who doesn’t?) these findings are pure gold.
Most people experience an afternoon-slump, in which concentration drops and you find yourself looking for 10 minutes at a paragraph, with continuous re-reading without getting what’s written.
Another study at Stanford among 49 physicians and nurses who worked the night shift found that they benefitted from a 40-minute nap (on average each participant slept for 25 minutes). The results? “Fewer performance lapses, reported more vigor, less fatigue and less sleepiness “
If both these professions with an immense responsibility benefit from taking a nap at work – why shouldn’t you?
- How to nap at work.
- Power napping proved to aid concentration.
- Why scheduling naps is one of NASA’s most important jobs
Immediate benefit #2: Improve learning & memory
Have you ever experienced the following scenario? You’re learning something difficult (playing the piano, coding, crafting or any other skill-based activity), and it’s just not working out. You call it a day and come back the next day—only to find that after a good night’s sleep what was difficult yesterday is now second nature.
That’s the power of sleep on memory and learning.
A study from Saarland university tested the memory recall of 41 participants. They were asked to learn single words and word pairs. After that half of the group took a 45-60-minute nap—the other half watched a DVD.
Guess who had the better memory recall? The students who took a nap remembered on average 5 times more words than the control group.
Everyone can benefit from learning new information and skills—your job and livelihood may depend on it.
- How sleep helps us learn new skills.
- Learning to play the piano? Sleep on it!
- You can actually learn these 4 things in your sleep.
- Can you learn in your sleep?
Immediate benefit #3: Stop information overload
A friend of mine is a doctor who has his own clinic. He swears by taking a nap every afternoon. Why? Because he needs to take in much information about each patient, assimilate that with his own knowledge, make a diagnose and recommend what to do next.
If he doesn’t take his nap, he’ll find that he loses focus around 3 to 4 and can’t focus on listening well to the patient. In his job, this can have huge consequences.
A Harvard study found that naps have a restorative effect on visual test results. Subjects were asked to do 4 visual tests (9AM, 12PM, 4PM and 7 PM), and found that those who took naps required less time on the later tests.
Humans are information processing machines, so it makes sense to get the most out of this ability, right? Taking a nap will help you take in more information, and you’ll make better decision as a result.
- Train your brain to navigate information overload.
- Sleep helps our brain process information.
- How to be smarter in the age of information overload.
Immediate benefit #4: Relieve stress & boost your immune system
What’s more relaxing than taking half an hour for yourself during a busy day to recharge? Power naps have been shown to physiologically decrease stress markers in the body.
One study found that in 11 healthy man, 30 minutes of sleep restored biomarkers of neuroendocrine and immune health to normal levels after a night of limited sleep. Neuroendocrine is a hormone that’s responsible for the fight or flight response.
Stress hormones are through the roof if you only get limited sleep throughout the night—and taking a nap can reverse some of these negative effects in the body.
It can be difficult to fall asleep—or take time away from your day—if you’re already stressed. But the decrease in stress will allow you to come back calmer and fresher.
- How to master stress and enjoy restful sleep instantly.
- Sleep deprived? Naps might help your immune system.
- How does sleep affect stress?.
Immediate benefit #5: Elevate your mood
Winston Churchill said that sleeping during the day gave him 2 days in one day. And I agree, who doesn’t love a good nap? You get a new chance at the day, and if your morning didn’t go as planned, you can try again after taking an afternoon nap.
Now science has also shown this mood-enhancing effect of naps. The study found that, even for people who generally get enough sleep they need very night, napping may lead to considerable benefits for mood, alertness and cognitive performance.
So if you’re feeling grumpy, why not lay down for 20 minutes? You’ll awake with a fresh perspective and good mood.
- The link between sleep and mood.
- Up all night: the effects of sleep loss on mood.
- How to use adequate sleep and naps to improve your mental health and reduce anxiety.
Immediate benefit #6: aid creative insights
The story goes that Salvador Dali used to take naps in his chair with a key in his hand. Next to his chair is a plate upside down. When he’d drift off to sleep, he loses the control over his hand muscle and the key drops on the plate.
It’s in this moment that he got is most creative insights.
He wrote about this moment in his book the 50 Secrets of craftsmanship:
“The moment the key drops from your fingers, you may be sure that the noise of its fall on the upside-down plate will awaken you, and you may be equally sure that this fugitive moment when you had barely lost consciousness and during which you cannot be assured of having really slept is totally sufficient, inasmuch as not a second more is needed for your physical and psychic being to be revivified by just the necessary amount of repose.”
We’re not master painters, but we can learn a lot from this. Have you experienced this state Dali talks about? I do know when I take a nap, the creative juices start to flow in my head. If I take a long nap I forget them—if I have a micronap, like Dali, then when I wake up I still remember.
In this hectic world we can all use an extra dose of creativity to help us overcome obstacles. The great thing about the Dali nap is that it doesn’t even take much time.
- The napping habits of 8 famous men.
- Science says people who take naps are more creative.
- The strange sleeping habits of 5 great geniuses.
Long-term benefit #1: Lose weight
The short-term benefits of napping are nothing to scoff at. Taking a powernap becomes even more impressive when you look at all the long-term benefits as well.
For example, naps are one of the most important things you can do for your health and weight loss.
Losing weight is all about eating less or burning more calories. Another component is stress. You’ve probably experienced cravings or hunger when you’re stressed out?
WebMD says that stress and tiredness can make your brain’s reward center more active—so you’ll start looking for something that feels good. Many turn to food in this case.
Sleeping enough will make you less stressed and less tired. If you can’t get enough at night, then taking a nap is s surefire way to combat stress and fatigue—so the chances of finding yourself at the office snack machine at 3.30PM decreases as well.
- The hidden ways sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain.
- Why sleep loss is the #1 most important thing for a better body.
- How I accidentally lost weight by napping and eating crepes.
Long-term benefit #2: Good for heart health & prevent a stroke
Which lucky people haven’t lost anyone close (friends or family) to a heart attack? Few. Data from 2012 showed that 28% of Americans over age 40 are taking cholesterol lowering medicines.
It’s one of the silent killers in our society, next to cancer and Alzheimer.
Now, I don’t want to put napping here as a miracle solution, since there are obviously many other factors in play for stroke and heart health, but midday naps are associated with reduced blood pressure and fewer medications.
The study checked 386 middle aged patients (average age 61) and found that—after taking into account factors such as age, gender, BMI, smoking, alcohol and coffee intake—that afternoon nappers had on average 5% lower systolic blood pressure compared to those who didn’t sleep.
Another study in Greece, where the siesta is still part of the culture, among 23,000 adults, found that those who took siestas showed a 37% reduction in coronary mortality rate.
It seems to me that we can learn something from the Mediterranean siesta habit. It’s a free way to reduce heart attacks and lower blood pressure.
- Taking a siesta reduces the risk of dying of heart disease by a third.
- A brief history of the Spanish siesta.
- The surprising way napping helps your heart.
Long-term benefit #3: Prevent cell damage
Being sleep deprived not only hurts your ability to focus. Research has shown that sleep deprivation literally causes damage to cell in the liver, lungs and small intestine.
Luckily, the study also found that recovery sleep was effective in restoring the balance and decrease cell injury.
Which means that if you’re having a late flight scheduled, and only can make 4 hours of sleep—you can catch up with that by taking a longer nap.
- Could naps slow down the aging process?
- Lack of sleep kills brain cells, new study shows.
- A 30-minute snooze can repair the damage caused by a lack of sleep.
Long-term benefit #4: Boost testosterone
Just as with some of the previous findings, a lack of sleep has a detrimental effect on testosterone production in men. Not getting enough sleep decreases the production of testosterone in men.
On study in aging men found that there’s a correlation between amount of sleep and testosterone levels. Men who slept for 4 hours had around 60% less serum testosterone than those who slept 3 hours more (7 hours).
Why is testosterone important? It’s responsible for wellbeing, weight loss, muscle mass retention and having low testosterone relates to overall risk of mortality in men.
A lack of sleep can also cause problems for women with hormones, and a power nap can help to restore the balance.
- Hormones and sleep: a two-way street.
- Are hormones to blame for your lack of sleep?
- Why you should take more naps as an athlete.
What does this mean for you?
With all the benefits surrounding powernaps, it’s one of the few things that you can do that only takes a small investment of your time and has dozens of incredibly benefits.
On the concrete side, it means that you can lose all the guilt that you might have when taking a nap.
I’m still working on this – and it’s getting better – I feel it a little when I’m taking a nap. For some reason napping is associated with older people. When you’re an adult, you should be able to cope with the stresses of life without *needing* a nap is still the current thinking.
Also, there are quite some practical things that impact your naps. Such as timing of your nap, how to fall asleep quickly, and what to do if you’re working in an office and can’t just go off and take a powernap.
In the following chapters we’ll discuss those—beginning with the different lengths and types of naps…
Chapter 2: How Long Should a Nap Be? (And Which Types of Naps Are There?)
There are different types of naps—depending on duration each offers a different use for you. Below you’ll find the main 7 types of naps that you can choose.
The type you’ll want to take depends mainly on the amount of time that you have. It goes without saying that it’s tough to fit a full sleep cycle nap of 90 minutes into your lunch break at work.