Why Taking Naps Will Make You More Productive
Research suggests you can get more done and save time with a little bit of day-time snoozing
Every day at around four-thirty and five o’clock, I become so sleepy that I have trouble keeping my eyes open as I write.
My typing becomes slow, my thoughts muddled, and nothing I write comes out clear enough for me to understand.
I used to fight my tiredness and keep working because that’s what hustlers do. However, one day, I felt so exhausted that I finally decided to take a nap, and I haven’t stopped napping since then. Every evening, I fall asleep for an hour.
I tried fighting sleep so I could keep working, but my tiredness only turned my work sloppy. After I started taking siestas, I woke up ready to focus and capable of writing a decent sentence.
Paradoxically, taking a nap helped me save time in the long-run.
Rather than wasting time by forcing myself to work, I dozed off, then I woke up and worked quicker than I would’ve if I hadn’t given in to sleep.
Naps Will Help You Get More Done
If you need more than a personal story to convince you to start taking naps, then let’s talk research.
In his book The Organized Mind, Daniel Levitin says, “studies have found that productivity goes up when the number of hours per week of work goes down, strongly suggesting that adequate leisure and refueling time pays off for employers and for workers… a sixty-hour workweek, although 50% longer than a forty-hour workweek, reduces productivity by 25%, so it takes two hours of overtime to accomplish one hour of work.”
In other words, just because you work long hours doesn’t mean you’re more productive.
So, if you want to be more productive and work smarter, not harder, then these shorts snoozes can be a great way to boost productivity.
According to Web MD, sleep reduces stress, and it helps you refuel. When you wake up, you’ll have gained the energy you lost to continue working. Siestas also make you happier, which means your performance levels also rise, according to Imagine: How Creativity Works, by Jonah Lehrer.
People refuse to take naps because they seem like a waste of time, or they proclaim they’re only for babies and children, but they’re beneficial for adults. If your mind feels foggy and you’re getting distracted easily, a quick sleeping session will help you refocus.
The National Sleep Foundation stated that “naps can restore alertness, enhance performance, and reduce mistakes and accidents. A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness 100%.”
Tell me — do you still think a nap is a waste of time?
How Long Should You Nap?
Up until a couple of months ago, I took “twenty-minute naps.” I put that in quotations because I’d try to take twenty-minute siestas.
In reality, I would press the snooze button twice, so that an hour passed. In wasn’t until that hour passed that I finally felt energized enough to wake up fully.
If I sleep for less than an hour, I awaken still tired and grumpy. Does this mean you should nap for an hour, too? Maybe, maybe not.
Most studies show that taking a ten- to thirty-minute nap is ideal. The National Sleep Foundation wrote that “naps can leave people with sleep inertia, especially when they last more than 10–20 minutes.”
Sleep inertia means you wake up groggy and disoriented.
That doesn’t happen to me. As I said, after twenty minutes, I’m still tired, but after an hour, I’m fully awake, and I can focus again.
The Mayo Clinic said that young adults can tolerate longer rests, which could explain why I (a twenty-one-year-old) feel fine after an hour asleep, while someone older feels like crap.
Of course, there’s always going to be contradicting advice.
Sleep Sherpa wrote in their article, How Long Should You Nap?: “Some experts are of the opinion that 90 minutes is the ideal time because the body gets sufficient time to complete one sleep cycle. Doze for 90 minutes, and you wake up absolutely refreshed, and it also boosts creativity.”
I’d recommend experimenting with nap lengths. For a week, take twenty-minute naps. The next, thirty, and the week after that sleep for an hour. Test this until you stumble upon the perfect time.
What Time Should You Take a Nap?
The Mayo Clinic shared, “take naps in the early afternoon. Napping after 3 p.m. can interfere with nighttime sleep. Individual factors, such as your need for sleep, your sleeping schedule, your age, and your medication use can also play a role in determining the best time of day to nap.”
I don’t mind falling asleep at 5 p.m. because I don’t like going to sleep early. However, you might be better off sleeping earlier or taking a shorter nap if you do snooze off in the evening.
In any case, it’s a powerful tool and I hope you’ll give it a shot to be more productive and save time in the process!