Would you tell Einstein he was stupid if he told you that taking a daily 20-minute snooze helped him come up with his revolutionary equations? Would you call JFK indolent because he spent some afternoons sawing logs in the Oval Office? Would you tell Salvador Dali his paintings were boring and needed more work? No, you wouldn’t question these men, especially not if you had any understanding of the importance of taking naps.
While many understand the ill health effects of getting too little sleep, few exalt the benefits of squeezing in a little shuteye in the middle of the day. In our culture, taking a siesta is neither a saluted nor a regular part of our daily schedule. Too many of us have pending agendas, deadlines, and a mile long to-do list, so sleeping mid-day, to some, seems like a lazy or careless activity. We are way too ambitious and competitive to think lying on the bed or on the couch to catch up on some much needed sleep is a good thing.
Studies show taking naps increases alertness, creativity and sex drive. People who take naps are also less likely to die from a heart attack and more likely to be in a good mood. According to Dr. Sara Mednick, sleep expert and author of the book, “Take a Nap! Change Your Life,” the best time to nap is between 1 and 3 in the afternoon, for 90 minutes at a time.
If an entire hour and a half nap each day does not fit into your already tight schedule, research shows sneaking in just twenty minutes at a time can deliver similar benefits. However, hitting the snooze button and sleeping in an extra twenty minutes will not give you the same benefits.
People like Einstein, Kennedy, and Dali accomplished a lot in their lifetime. If the secret to success and happiness is sleep, and sleep is such a luxurious activity, it is crazy to think anyone would deny it. We may not come up with a new theory of relativity, lead the country, or create great masterpieces on canvas, and that is OK. Taking a nap is success in itself.