Nap Like A Boss

The NYTimes reported on napping at work.

I’ve been napping at work and school for years. I am unapologetic about it. I’ve been “caught” by NAP NAZIS at Berkeley, the USDA, PAHO, the UN Foundation (funny story about me being banned from using the lactation room), World Bank, LSE, many coworking spaces and more.

These days my schedule usually looks something like this:

Wake up around 6am > start work at 6:20 am > work until about noon.

By 12pm, I’ve already put in about 5 hours of work. I’ve had 5 hours worth of writing, phone calls, emails, firefighting. I’m usually whooped by lunch time. There’s more to do. Always. And why not treat myself?

My naps at work happen after I’ve had lunch and a small cup of coffee.

By the time I wake up I’m perked and ready to put in another 4–5 hours.

Napping has increased my productivity and reduced anxiety.

I’m not new to napping. It’s big part of my family. My father naps everyday. He runs two businesses, deals with a few of properties, and has been doing a bunch of remodeling recently. All without a watch or a computer. He’s a boss and naps like one too. My grandfather napped every day as well (less ambitious as my dad, but he knew how to take care of himself).

A few tricks I’ve learned over the years about napping:

  1. Turn off all electronics. I usually turn my phone to “do not disturb”, turn off the ringer, and set my timer for 20 minutes. The world can wait for 20 minutes. Nothing is really that urgent.
  2. Nap outside. At my office we have a terrace with comfy outdoor furniture (thanks WeWork). If you’re going to partake in napping at work, simply go outside, get some vitamin D and just close your eyes. I also enjoy going to parks if I’m traveling.
  3. Turn off the lights. If you can’t nap outside, just go to a dimly lit room where you can turn off the lights. Light makes a huge difference on sleep quality.
  4. Listen to some tunes (optional). These days I can nap without putting in headphones. I’ve gotten good at being comfortable with sound. But if you are going to throw on some tunes, I highly advise some John Coltrane or Chopin.
  5. Just close your eyes. I’ve learned that its okay if you don’t actually fall asleep. The idea of taking time to close your eyes and be “off” for 20 minutes is pure bliss. I can’t speak to the neuroscience around the effects of just closing your eyes, but it helps clear my brain. I’m sure it has similar effects to meditation.
  6. Recount everything you did since waking up in the morning. If you’re starting out, this is an old trick I learned from an ex-Soviet Russian psychiatrist to help me go to sleep faster and improve my memory. Simply remember the first thing you did since waking up, every detail and go through the day as if you’re playing it back in your mind as a movie. I noticed that my memory really improved after doing this.
  7. (NSFW) Nap naked. Ok this tip is not to be done at work for obvious reasons. If we’re going to learn from the best nappers, we have to look to our baby selves for inspiration. Babies sleep and nap all day. They don’t wear clothes to sleep. They are just in a swaddle or blanket or whatever. I promise when you’re at home and want to nap, just pop off those clothes, get under the sheets and you will sleep like a baby. Bonus tip: take a shower before hand. You will thank me.

The best thing about napping is waking up. After 20 minutes, you will feel so fresh and ready to conquer the world.


Is it time for your nap?

Originally published at