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5 Scientific Secrets To Naps That Will Make You Happier And Smarter

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I find this very compelling, Eric:

Maybe you think you don’t need all that much sleep. You’re wrong.

Less than 3% of people are actually 100% on less than 8 hours a night. But you feel fine, you say?

That’s the fascinating thing about chronic sleep debt. Research shows you don’t notice it – even as you keep messing things up.

In her TED talk, Sara Mednick, author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life, gives the rundown:

Now here’s the part you’ve probably never heard:

Eight hours might not even be enough. Give people 10 hours and they performeven better.

Via Power Sleep:

Timothy Roehrs and Thomas Roth at the Sleep Disorders Research Center of the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan, have demonstrated that alertness significantly increases when eight-hour sleepers who claim to be well rested get an additional two hours of sleep. Energy, vigilance, and the ability to effectively process information are all enhanced, as are critical thinking skills and creativity.

I know what you’re thinking: 10 hours a night? I don’t have time for that. I barely have time to read this post.

Is there a compromise?


Can closing your eyes for a few minutes really make that much of a difference? Keep reading.

Read more:


Research shows naps increase performance

NASA found pilots who take a 25 minute nap are 35% more alert and twice as focused.

Whatever your limitations and desires, there’s a nap for you. Looking at research from Richard Wiseman and the WSJ, here’s a breakdown:

Which one describes what you need?

1) “I Just Need To Be More Alert And Focused”:

Take a 10-20 minute nap. You’ll get a boost in alertness and focus for 2 hours or more, pay off a little sleep debt and even reduce blood pressure.

2) “Brain No Working. Need Smartz”:

Consider a 60 minute nap. You’ll get all the benefits of the 10-20 minute nap while also improving memory and learning.

But be warned: 60 minute naps cause grogginess.

3) “I Want It All, Baby”:

Take a 90 minute nap. This allows your brain to experience a complete sleep cycle.

You’ll get the full whack: increased alertness, memory, learning, creativity and performance — with no post-nap grogginess.

4) “I Don’t Know What I Want But You’ve Scared Me Into Napping And I Don’t Have Much Time”:

Go with 10 minutes. It beat 5, 20 or 30 minute naps in a comparative research study.

5) “I don’t have enough time to tell you how little time I have”:

No nap is too short: “A 2008 study showed that even a nap of a few minutes provided benefits. Just anticipating a nap lowers blood pressure.”

Got more questions? I have answers:

  • When is the best time to nap? Salk Institute researcher Sara Mednick generally recommends you nap approximately 6-7hrs after waking.
  • Trouble falling asleep? Write down any worries and think positive (but not exciting) thoughts. Trying too hard to sleep is counterproductive.
  • Worried you won’t wake up in time? Richard Wiseman recommends a cup of coffee immediately before napping. The caffeine will kick in 25 minutes after you lay down.

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