How to Take the Perfect Nap, According to Science
Magazine / How to Take the Perfect Nap, According to Science

How to Take the Perfect Nap, According to Science

Habits & Productivity Psychology Science
How to Take the Perfect Nap, According to Science

Named by Thinkers50 as one of the top 10 business thinkers in the world, Daniel Pink is the #1 bestselling author of six provocative books on business, work, and human behavior, including his latest work, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. As a founding curator of the Next Big Idea Club, Daniel offered club members a number of exclusive insights from When, one of which we’re proud to share below.

For most of my life, I hated naps. I would take them periodically, but I would wake up feeling terrible, like I had cotton balls in my head—my brain was all fuzzy. (I would also be slightly ashamed of myself for napping.) But naps can be powerful—in many ways, they are Zambonis for our brain. They smooth out all of the nicks and cuts in our mental ice that a day has left.

And I discovered something important in this research: I was doing it wrong. Here’s how to take a perfect nap.

Number one: Find a quiet space. I sit in a chair in my office, and put on noise-canceling headphones.

Two: The best, most productive naps, are extremely short—between 10 and 20 minutes long. Naps longer than that begin to create what’s called sleep inertia, which is that groggy feeling that you experience. So what I do is set my phone alarm for 25 minutes.

Three: Before I take that nap—this is going to sound weird—I have a cup of coffee. (Stick with me on this.) Then I close my eyes and set that timer for 25 minutes. I can usually fall asleep in about 10 minutes, so if my alarm goes off after 25 minutes, I’ve gotten a 15-minute nap—that’s the ideal time for napping.

But here’s where it gets interesting: It turns out that caffeine takes about 25 minutes to get into our bloodstream. So I have the ideal nap length, I don’t have that sleep inertia, and just as I’m waking up, I get that second boost of caffeine from the coffee.

This technique is in a lot of research papers. It’s known as a “nappuccino,” and you should give it a try.

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