Want to be 54% more alert and increase your performance by 34%? Take a nap.
I nap every single day. Sometimes twice a day!
I don’t nap because I’m lazy.
I nap because I want to get more done — lots more done.
I nap because I’m committed to my work and my family and I want to be the best version of me.
I’ve been napping since my first year of university. I started having this feeling like my brain was full — a feeling I couldn’t suppress with coffee. I would take every opportunity I could get to grab a 10-minute snooze. I would nap in the hallways of the university, in the library, on benches, chairs, just about anywhere. I would nap when I got home from school. I’ve been napping my entire career.
Turns out there is a growing body of knowledge on sleep and napping. NASA says that taking a powernap quantifiably increases alertness by 54% and productivity by 34%.
Google has recognized this as well and supplies its army of brains sleep pods.
How I Nap
I’m positive I didn’t start out with any instructions when I started napping — only some constraints. I had 10–15 minutes and my brain was full — the rest came naturally. With that said, here is how I do it...
- Get my legs above my heart — this isn’t a must have — but it sure makes a difference. Lay down — prop up the legs a bit.
- Give yourself permission. If you feel guilty about taking 10 minutes to shut your eyes, you won’t get any benefit from napping. Maybe it isn’t for you. Perhaps you should explore the reason for that guilt.
- Take 3 super big deep breaths. This ALWAYS makes me yawn. I’m yawning just thinking about it.
- As soon as you feel yourself not sleeping — get up! Don’t force it.
I get asked a lot, how do I sleep for only 10 minutes? No idea to be honest. I just do — mostly because I know I have a call coming up, or a deadline I have to hit, or some other appointment I need to get to.
What happens if you sleep for more than 10 minutes? Yup, it happens. Maybe it’s your body telling you that you aren’t getting enough rest at night?
I wrote about that here as well:
You don’t really shut off when you nap
There is another strange thing about napping. Your brain actually doesn’t shut off — it keeps working. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve awoken from a nap with an idea, a solution to a problem I have been working on or even the return of a forgotten memory that I’ve been trying to find. Quite often if I find I have to make big decisions or solve really hard problems — I’ll take a nap which seems to give my subconscious more CPU cycles to help me out.
What’s Your Journey?
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You can also follow me on twitter @joelsemeniuk where I regularly discuss all things innovation, and more importantly, the personal costs we innovators bear.