The Power Nap: Tips and Benefits

Name your top 5 guilty pleasures (we’re lumping every delicious, fat- or  carb-loaded goody into one naughty pleasure). Isn’t napping one of them? Honestly, there’s nothing like a solid 20-30 minute crash in the middle of the day when you’re feeling tired or foggy. Add the bonus of numerous studies confirming the healthful benefits of the power nap, and let that guilt morph into a fully validated, blissful snooze.

I’ve read long lists of the benefits of napping, but they pretty much boil down to the following three:

1. Clearer thinking and acuity: A foggy brain struggling to focus and make decisions is an impaired brain. A NASA study showed that a 30-minute nap improved cognitive abilities by roughly 40 percent. Other studies suggest that with a 20-minute nap, the brain can become fully loaded again, neurons fire more effectively and we reap the benefits of being more alert, able to think clearer, enhancing our memories, our ability to problem solve, come up with creative ideas, work efficiently and learn new information.

2. Increased energy and stamina: Harking back to the tale of the tortoise and the hare, it’s not always the one who runs the hardest that wins. Studies show that short naps revive physical energy and increase stamina and endurance, ultimately affecting performance.

3. Protection against heart attack: A 2007 study by the Archives of Internal Medicine concluded that in cultures where afternoon napping is common (i.e., 30-minute siestas at least three times a week), there was a 37 percent lower risk of heart-related death. For individuals who napped only occasionally, the risk was lowered by 12 percent. Both the stress-reducing and restorative effects of napping boost cardiovascular health.

To maximize the effectiveness of your nap, try the following:

1. Early afternoon is the recommended time for a power nap. Napping too late in the day can interfere with night time sleeping, which serves to defeat the purpose of giving your body what it needs to function optimally.

2. Keep it brief. Napping beyond 40 minutes can result in a prolonged groggy feeling and undermine the reviving effects a 20-30 minute nap provides. See what works for you. For some people, anything beyond 10 minutes leaves them in too much of a haze.

3. A quiet setting with low light is optimum for a solid nap. Some businesses (think Google) even have EnergyPods, cocoon-like chairs with headphone jacks, where employees can crash and get revived mid-workday. While most businesses don’t offer this luxury, finding a space and a way to decompress for a few is a worthwhile endeavor. Perhaps you will be the one to get a quiet/meditation-type space created in your office.

4. As counterintuitive as this may seem, having a cup of coffee just prior to napping can help bolster alertness. It takes about 20 minutes for the caffeine effect to kick in, so it shouldn’t interfere with your sleep.

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Richard A
Richard A2 years ago

Thank you for this article and great information.
My own studies confirm the benefits of the 20 minute power nap. Before retiring from my job I had a 30 minute lunch break in the middle of my work day. I gradually picked up the habit of taking a 20 minute power nap every day possible. I found these naps to be fantastically energizing - both physically and mentally. It is a habit that I try to maintain to this day and it still works.

Jo S.
Jo S3 years ago

Thank you Terri.

Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen4 years ago

Thank you :)

Lola S.
Lola S4 years ago

One of my co-workers takes a nap under her desk several times a week. I think she read this before me. Will have to give it a try because she always seems so perky! It could be because she is 1/2 my age but it's worth trying, right?!

Angela Malafouris

Well if you work many hours and not in the Google-like office environment it is very hard to apply this. Plus my boss doesn't want to hear that I feel sleepy, she just wants me to try and get the work done. However she was open to the idea of me bringing in a small yoga mattress and going to a closed office space for a ten minute break...lying on my back and resting my spine! Purely because I suffer from severe back aches. I think I will bring this suggestion up to the next office meeting!

Joe R.
Joe R6 years ago


Lindsey Williams
Lindsey Williams7 years ago

thank you

Camila K.
Kamila A8 years ago

I like that info about the coffee

Ioana Boca
Ioana B8 years ago

very informative,thank you

Maira Sun
Maira Sun8 years ago