Everything you ever wanted to know about napping

When was the last time you had a nice, leisurely nap? If you’re not a morning person like me, getting up early to start work leaves you feeling tired most of the day. To ease that tired feeling, I find napping (whenever possible) help give you a productivity boost throughout the day; whether it be on the train or having a nano-nap at my desk.

A nap is a good way to re-invigorate your body and mind. But how much do you actually know about napping? To fill us in, furniture store Patio Productions has put together this infographic: the ultimate guide to naps. Check out this great infographic on the science and statistics of your everyday nap. And try not to get caught dozing off at work.


Everything you ever wanted to know about napping

All about napping

Nap Types

The Nano-Nap. 10-20 seconds. Studies haven’t yet concluded whether there are benefits to briefly nodding off on someone’s shoulder on the train.

Micro-Naps. 2-5 minutes. These are shown to be surprisingly effective at shedding sleepiness.

The Mini-Nap. 5-20 minutes. It increases alertness, stamina, motor learning and motor performance.

Power Napping. 20 minutes. The benefits of the original power nap are the same as micro and mini-naps, but additionally improves muscle memory and clears the brain of built-up information, which helps with long-term memory.

The Lazy Man’s Nap. 50-90 minutes. It includes slow-wave plus REM sleep; good for improving perceptual processing; also when the system is flooded with human growth hormones, it’s 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 the co-pilot) enhanced performance by 34% and overall alertness by 54%.
  • National Napping Day is March 14th. 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 morning from 2am to 4am, and in the afternoon, between 1pm and 3pm.
  • NBA, NHL, and NFL players are known to be nappers.
  • October 2010, Spain’s first national siesta championship takes place in Madrid. The top napper won 1,000 euros.
  • A recent study found that sleeping 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 found that 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%.
  • Napping decreases daytime sleepiness by 10%.
  • 11% of people had an elevated mood.
  • Nappers have a 10% improved quality interactions.
  • Alertness is elevated 11%.
  • Naps increase stamina by 11%.
  • 9% enhanced metal abilities.
  • 6% increased physical health.
  • Taking a nap decreased the time it takes to fall asleep at night by 14% and allows people to stay asleep throughout the night by 12%; increasing night time sleep by 20 minutes.
  • Nappers also feel 5% more refreshed when they wake.

Businesses that promote napping

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 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 of the controls.

6% of workplaces had nap rooms as of 2011, a slight increase from 5% the previous year.

1,508 adults were polled by the National Sleep Foundation. They found that 34% of respondents said that their employers allowed them to nap at work, and 16% said their employers also have designated napping areas.

Napping in other cultures

The siesta rest has has origins in Islamic Law and is written about in the Koran. However, the word siesta is Spanish, originating from the Latin “Hora Sexto” meaning “the sixth hour” (six hours from dawn to noon). Siesta means “midday rest”. Although Spain is often considered as having invented the siesta, its origins go back much further in history with Islam.

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 Siberia and Slovenia. Especially among older citizens, it’s common to observe the so-called “house rule”, requiring people from refrain from telephoning or visiting each other between 2pm and 5pm, as people are supposed to be resting; especially since lunch in Siberia and Slovenia, eaten usually between 1pm and 2pm, is the main dish of the day.

In Bengal, the word which describes the concept is bhat-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 north India a colloquial term sustãnã, which literally means “taking small nap” (possibly of Persian origin), is used, although it doesn’t necessarily mean siesta it’s used the same way.

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 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.

Famous people who napped

Bill Clinton napped while President of the United States to help him cope with the pressures of office.

Brahms napped at the piano while he composed his famous lullaby.

Napoleon took naps between battles while sitting on his horse.

Winston 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.

Geniuses such as Thomas Edison and Leonardo da Vinci napped. In fact, Einstein napped frequently throughout the day to help him think more clearly; he would sit in his favourite armchair with a pencil in his hand and purposefully doze off. He would wake when the pencil dropped, ensuring he did not enter a deep sleep from which it would be difficult to wake up.


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