During my business trip this week, I got no more than 4 hours of sleep each night. I know it’s terrible for my health but I was still able to perform on the job and tour NYC without drinking gallons of coffee. I think it’s all due to my practice of the power nap. Before leaving for my trip I read an article in the Men’s Journal about how Steve Fossett was able to set the world record for an around-the-world solo jet flight. Apparently Steve slept just 60 minutes in 67 hours of flight by taking 2 and 3 minute naps.
Basically there are 5 phases of a nap, broken down by the amount of time you get your shut-eye.
Nano-nap: 10 to 20 seconds
This is when you nod off while driving home from a long day and wake up just in time to catch yourself from driving off the road. These can be quite dangerous to your health and doesn’t provide many benefits.
Micro-nap: 2 to 5 minutes
This is when you come home from long day at work and was able to ward off a traffic accident from your nano-nap, only to fall asleep while parked in the garage. Studies have shown that these naps are quite effective in shedding sleepiness.
Mini-nap: 5 to 20 minutes
This is the nap I took advantage of at the airports and car rides (when I’m not driving). It helps to increase alertness, stamina, motor learning, and motor performance.
Power nap: 20 minutes
Includes the benefits of the micro and the mini, but additionally improves muscle memory and clears the brain of useless built-up information, which helps with long-term memory (remembering facts, events, and names).
Lazy Man’s nap: 50 to 90 minutes
This is usually what I do when I’ve had a really long day and decided to skip out on burning off the beer belly. Includes slow-wave plus REM sleep; good for improving perceptual processing; also when the system is flooded with human growth hormone, great for repairing bones and muscles.
So basically, naps are good as long as they are 20 minutes or less, or longer than 50 minutes. Just follow this simple power napping formula:
5 < t < 20 and 50 < t < 90, where t is nap time.
I’ve taken a nap in that forbidden zone of 20 < t < 50 before and woke up feeling like someone took a pan to my head, poured glue over eyelids and tangled up my shoe laces.