The benefits of napping

Posted by Jeff Zack on

I have a confession to make: I take naps. 

Usually around three in the afternoon, as the energy level runs low, I close the door to my office and have what I call a nippy nap.

I spend about fifteen minutes of quiet time plopped on my Xorbee Xplorer, our 4-foot model. I drift off almost immediately.

I know I'm not in Kindergarten any longer, but there's plenty of evidence that supports the idea of napping midday. It's a great way to recharge.

Taking a nap has has many benefits.

  • Naps 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 percent and alertness 100 percent.
  • Naps increase alertness. In the period directly following the nap, studies show that alertness is increased and extended a few hours later in the day.
  • Naps have been shown to improve certain memory functions.

You're in good company if you like naps. Here are six famous people who saw a nap not as an indulgence, but as a necessity.

  1. Winston Churchill: Churchill was a bit of a diva when it came to his naps. He believed it helped him get twice as much done each day. He wrote, “Nature has not intended mankind to work from eight in the morning until midnight without that refreshment of blessed oblivion which, even if it only lasts twenty minutes, is sufficient to renew all the vital forces…”

  2. Albert Einstein: Einstein claimed that he needed his naps and 10 hours of sleep at night.

  3. John F. Kennedy: JFK used a one to two-hour nap and Jackie even advise LBJ to do the same. JFK’s workdays were 12 hours long (or more) and he relied heavily on naps to keep him alert. It's believed that Kennedy took the lesson from Ike, who took it from Churchill.

  4. Margaret Thatcher: Her will of iron was stiffened by a scheduled nap in the middle of the afternoon.

  5. Thomas Edison: The man who brought us the light bulb and the phonograph had little use for sleep. When he did doze off he preferred to do it for a short time in the middle of the day. He didn't believe he needed prolonged rest, just 30 minutes to 2-3 hours at a time.

  6. Bill Clinton: Our 42nd President was famous for his late night schedule and long work hours. To get himself through the workload, Clinton often snuck away for a quick nap in the residence at the White House, or even on the couch in the Oval Office. 

Don’t let anyone shame you out of the luxuryno necessityof a short nap. If they try, simply explain to them that if it was good enough for President's Clinton and Kennedy, it's good enough for you.

Enjoy.

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