The Benefits of Napping

When was the last time you let yourself have a nice, leisurely nap?

Past articles promoted the health & productivity benefits of good sleep, but what about a short nap? The folks at Patio Productions shared this great infographic on the science and statistics of napping, spent inside or in the majestic outdoors. Enjoy, and pass it along to friends.


Infographic on the health & productivity benefits of a short nap (by PatioProductions)

Transcript (for screen readers)

Nap Types

  • The Nano-Nap (10-20 seconds) – Sleep studies haven’t yet concluded whether there are benefits to these brief intervals, like when you nod off on someone’s shoulder on the train.
  • The Micro-Nap (2-5 minutes) – Shown to be surprisingly effective at shedding sleepiness.
  • The Mini-Nap (5-20 minutes) – Increases alertness, stamina, motor learning, and motor performance.
  • The Original Power Nap (20-50 minutes) – Includes the benefits of the micro and the mini, but additionally improves muscle memory and clears the brain of useless build-up information, which then helps with long-term memory (remembering facts, events and names).
  • The Lazy Man’s Nap (50-90 minutes) – Includes slow-wave plus REM sleep; good for improving perceptual processing; also when the system is flooded with human growth hormone, great for repairing bones and muscles.

Napping Factoids

  • A nap of 60 minutes improves alertness for up to 10 hours.
  • Research on pilots shows that a 26-minute “NASA” nap in flight (while the plane is manned by a copilot) enhanced performance by 34% and overall alertness by 54%.
  • National Napping Day is on March 14. This unofficial holiday was first observed in 1999.
  • Most mammals sleep for short periods throughout the day. Humans have consolidated sleep into one long period, but our bodies are programmed for two periods of intense sleepiness: in the early morning, from about 2am to 4am, and in the afternood, between 1pm and 3pm.
  • Athletes, including NBA, NHL and NFL players, are known to be nappers.
  • October 2010, Spain’s first national siesta championship took place in Madrid. The top napper won 1,000 euros.
  • A recent study found that napping on a slowly swinging bed really does get us to sleep faster.
  • Siesta cultures have a lower rate of coronary heart disease (CHD). A 2007 study of about 24,000 Greek people showed that those who napped twice a week reduced their CHD by 12%. What was really amazing was that if they napped three times a week, their CHD reduced by a whopping 37%. Here are some of the test results from napping:
    • Decreased daytime sleepiness by 10%,
    • Elevated mood 11% (happier),
    • Improved quality of interactions 10%,
    • Elevated alertness 11% (could  save lives),
    • Increased stamina 11%,
    • Enhanced mental abilities 9%,
    • Increased physical health 6%,
    • Decreased the time to fall asleep at night 14%,
    • Increased the ability to stay asleep through the night 12%,
    • Increased the feeling of being refreshed upon waking 5%, AND…
    • Increased nighttime sleep by about 20 minutes.

Businesses that Promote Napping

  • 1,508 adults were polled by the National Sleep Foundation. They found that 34% of respondents say their employers allow them to nap at work, and 16% said their employers also have designated napping areas.
  • 6% of workplaces had nap rooms in 2001, a slight increase from 5% the previous year.
  • Nike workers now have access to nap-friendly “quiet rooms” that can also be  used for meditation.
  • Google has a number of futuristic napping pods scattered throughout its Mountain View campus. (Its “Energy Pods” – futuristic-looking white capsules that rent for $795 a month or sell for $12,985, where nappers can recline out of other people’s sight and set timers to wake themselves  up with vibrations and lights)
  • Continental and British Airways allow pilots to sleep during long international flights while colleagues take over the controls.

Napping in Other Countries

  • The word siesta is Spanish, originating from the Latin “Hora Sexto”, meaning “the sixth hour” (six hours from dawn is noon). Siesta means “midday rest.” Although Spain is often considered as having invented the “siesta,” its origins go back much further in history, with origins in Islamic Law and mentioned in the Koran. Romans had a regular siesta; it was considered to be a physical necessity rather than a luxury.
  • An example of a siesta-like habit can be found in Serbia and Slovenia. Especially among older citizens, it is common to observe the so0called “house rule,” requiring people to refrain from telephoning or visiting each other between 2 pm and 5 pm, as people are supposed to be resting; especially since lunch in Serbia and Slovenia, eaten usually between 1 pm and 2 pm, is the main dish of the day.
  • In Bengal, the word which describes the concept is blat-ghum, literally meaning “rice-sleep,” a nap after lunch.
  • In some southern German-speaking regions, the Mittagspause or Mittagsruhe is still customary; shops close, and children are expected to play quietly indoors.
  • In northern India, a colloquial term, sustānā, which literally means “taking small nap” (possibly of Persian origin), is used the same way as siesta.
  • Afternoon sleep is also a common habit in China and Taiwan after the midday meal. This is called wujiao in Chinese. Almost all schools in Mainland China and Taiwan have a half-hour nap period right after lunch. This is a time when all lights are out and one is not allowed to do anything other than rest or sleep.
  • Some Japanese offices have special rooms known as napping rooms for their workers to take a nap during lunch break or after overtime work.
  • In the United States, the United Kingdom, and a growing number of other countries, a short sleep has been referred to as a “power nap.”

Famous People who Napped

  • Geniuses such as Edison and da Vinci napped.
  • Brahms napped at the piano while he composed is famous lullaby.
  • Einstein napped frequently during the day to help him think more clearly. He would  sit in his favorite armchair with a pencil in his hand and purposefully doze off. He would wake with the pencil dropped, ensuring he did not enter a deep sleep from which it would be difficult to wake up.
  • Napoleon napped between battles while sitting on his horse.
  • Bill Clinton napped while President of the United States to help him cope with the pressures of office.
  • Churchill maintained that he had to nap in order to cope with his wartime responsibilities.
  • Margaret Thatcher napped in order to be at her best.



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