The Art of the Nap


What do Winston Churchill,  Napoleon Boneparte,  Albert Einstein, Leonardo Da Vinci, and John F. Kennedy all have in common?  They  all took regular afternoon naps.

Our culture has a problem with sleep in general and napping specifically.  In our quest for ever increasing productivity, a nap and early bedtime are frowned upon.  We are multitasking and doing “one more thing” until late into the night.

The National Sleep Foundation states that in 1910,  the average American slept nine hours per night.  By 1975, that number dropped to 7.5 hours/night.  Today, it is closer to 7 hours and often much less.  Shorter sleep time can affect our cortisol which can increase hunger and blood sugar levels.

There is evidence to suggest that naps are part of evolutionary biology for humans, especially the afternoon nap, which is common to many cultures.  A Harvard study found that people who regularly napped at least 3x per week for an average of 30 minutes had a 37% lower risk of heart attack. Naps also boost serotonin, which leads to improved memory, learning and performance.

Try 15 minutes to start. If you can’t fall asleep, take some slow deep breaths for a few minutes. Practice 7 counts inhaling, 7 counts holding the breath and 7 counts exhaling.  This helps reboot  your body and mind .