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Benefits of Power Naps – Siesta

FACT : 20 minutes of mid day napping is more beneficial than 20 minute more sleep in the morning Body becomes tired after 8 hours of waking up.

Think About it. We sleep  8 hours a day and work efficiently for the first half of our day. What if we could take a half an our days break and get the second half of the day equally efficient. That’s what power naps do to us. Doing it right is key. Too long or too short a power nap and you have the chances of ruining the benefits altogether or you may not just get the right effect from it. If you nap longer, chances are you will feel groggy and irritable for a few minutes, but there are benefits and ill effects, both , of napping longer. Let’s discuss some of the benefits of napping , in general. Now for this section, we are choosing to keep the nap time to a bit less than 30 minutes. The optimum time for a good nap is between 10-20 minutes.

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  1. Enhances Cognitive Ability & Alertness : Cognitive abilities range from attention span, memory, reasoning and a lot more. Overall, you can expect to learn more, absorb better and be attentive. Your reasoning skills will be a lot better when your mind is fresh. Chances of you making a mistake are high when you are mentally or physically tired. You lose focus and are unable to concentrate when your mind is not as focused. Some people take a walk , others get a coffee but A nap, works better or at least just as any other process to jump start your brain and lasts longer.
  2. Improves Learning Memory : a Part of cognitive ability,  Your learning memory is the ability to grasp new information. May it be from a book, A class or a video. If you are watching or  listening, chances are that you are learning. But most people are not as alert and learn less when they are tired. A boring lecture could put you to sleep easily. If you Nap before a lecture or a meeting, there is evidence that you would be more confident, absorb better and the lesson will be memorised far better than if you were tired.
  3. Prevents Stress : Not many people understand stress. We dedicate stress to lack of money, Conditions in relationship or family, Health conditions in general of our own or loved ones, Work and other factors. Small things like rest adds up to stress. If you are stressed out, chances are you are already in need of some rest. You may have not had the rest required because your mind is always on stress. Relax for a while. Take a 15 minute nap and look at the same problem after. Chances are you will have a different attitude to the problem and your stress level will decrease. Your stress level is almost always an indication of your inability to cope with a situation. You need to take a fresh look at the situation and you can do it only by moving away from the problem for a short while. Take a nap. 
  4. Boosts mood : If i had to boost my mood I would do one of the 3 things. Drink a liter of water OR Go for a run and sweat it out OR Take a Nap or go to bed altogether. Nothing feels better than sleep but its not always a good option. A nap on the other hand takes only 15 minutes and you can expect it to go a lot better after that. Kids are usually grumpy without the afternoon naps and you can find them crying and nagging if they don’t get it. It’s the same with adults too, just that our reactions are a bit different. At the end of the day, your mood is just not right and you could get a short nap to get it cleared.
  5. Improves Creativity: Personally i work best early in the morning. 4 am to 8 am is the best time for me. I design websites, write and Do most of the Non repetitive work during those hours. I avoid reading, and going through my daily accounts , checking my email during those first few hours. Its the same after a nap. A Nap Followed by a coffee gives me wings, For a short while. I can work quite well on things which I hate. Accounts. Finance. Learning things which is really not what I want to do but I am forced to do. And its during these hours that i get creative with things which wouldn’t have been creative about without a nap. I would rather shut the computer down and go for a walk if I did not get my nap. 
  6. Helps Productivity : Productivity increases a good 33% after a nap. Everyone knows that its the lousy 3 hours of work after lunch at my office. Lunch is over by 2 and till 5 i can see everyone just doing nothing productive. The energy is gone. People are drowsy after lunch and no amount of coffee or yelling from the boss is going to change things. A quick nap usually gives you more energy to continue for at least 2 and a half hours. Imagine being 30% productive in the second half vs 63% productive in the second half. Personally, I would prefer getting a nap and will ensure that my staff and colleagues got one too in the second half. 
  7. Lowers Risk of Heart disease : There is a very thin line between naps and heart diseases. While some research does show that the heart benefits from a short nap in the noon, there are others which indicate that heart attacks could increase if a person already has a heart condition and they nap regularly. It’s hard to say that its good or bad but if you not have a heart condition already, we think it’s a good idea that you get a nap after your mid day meal. 15 minutes of siesta could actually help your heart.
  8. Reduce Accidents : Accidents in general, not just road accidents, but accidents at work, if you are working with machinery or even if you are working in a factory. Chances of preventing accidents just because your mind is tired is high. Getting a short nap will prevent you from making a bad decision, Sending unwanted texts and accidents in the workplace and on the road. Accidents on road 37% of accidents were reportedly caused because the driver fell asleep. That’s a very high percentage, Higher than DUI. Get a nap Now. Reduce accidents.
  9. Enhance Performance : Its Not just productivity but also Performance that you can increase. Physical or mental performance increases after a short nap. Expect to complete tasks much faster and easily after a short nap. A task which would take 2-3 hours can be completed in less than an hour, often times less than half an hour. Physical tasks could be done with precision and better posture. Your gym routine would be much more pleasant after a nap and you can expect to do those workouts in the right posture.
  10. Scheduled Naps For Narcolepsy : Narcolepsy or daytime sleepiness is often dedicated to poor sleep at night. A short nap of 15 minutes could gear you up for the next 2 and a half hour and if you could repeat the process every 4 hours, you can expect a much better day than if you would try to counter it with other measures including caffeine. Also note that longer than 20 minutes of nap would create problems in your sleep cycle making it harder to get to sleep at night. This in turn will create more problems with narcolepsy . Its important to watch your naps, specially if you are suffering from narcolepsy. Never nap for more than 20 minutes.
  11. boost immune function : Sleeping enables a lot of changes to our body. Most of our recovery happens from sleep. A doctors recommendation to sleep when you are ill is to speed up the process of recovery. A nap is just as beneficial for our body to recover from the burn out during the first half our day. Recovering involves repair of the cells that are damaged and also getting your immune system spiked to help the recovery process. You will see a boost in your immune system after a short nap and this will last a few hours. Chances are you will counter most of your smaller health issues faster and feel a lot better after a short nap. Yes it does fight from many health problems.
  12. Prevents Cell Damage : The Science daily  indicates how sleep loss can cause cell damage. A Short nap during the day can prevent cell damage and there is enough science behind the process. You can expect to look and feel younger, speed up recovery if you are ill , especially if you have lung, liver and issues in the small intestine.
  13. Boosts Testosterone : Expect to be more energetic and this is due to the higher testosterone levels after a short nap. Its often noticed that you feel far more energetic after a short nap. Most people who feel low and tired have a lower testosterone levels. You just need to take a short nap and see the spike in testosterone levels, just enough to perform for a good 2-3 hours. Add a short run to it and you will have a wonderful evening with spiked endorphin too.
  14. Helps Lose WEight : Most people think that too much sleep is going to increase your weight. This is not always true. People who sleep less tend to go hungry because they are tired. Most people who are sleep deprived tend to eat more often or in more quantity. This increases your chance of gaining weight and also being tired. Sleep manages and balances a lot of your bodily functions and needs including your metabolism. With lack of sleep you can expect your bodily functions to go haywire and feel hungry more often. Take a short nap when you are tired and eat what is required. 
  15. Look Younger : Its called Beauty Sleep for a reason. Naps help rebuild cells and repairs cell damage. Naps Reduces aging significantly and getting a good nap everyday and making it habitual is a good idea. An article on Healthline explains how Your sleep affects your skin and looks. Without sleep you can expect your skin to look dull. Sleep disorders can make you older fast and vice versa is true if you sleep well and take naps when needed. If you cannot make it a habit, at least ensure that you get naps When needed. 
  16. Improve Sex Life :  While its true that Sleep makes you sleepy, its also true that enough sleep can improve or increase your sex drive. If you are not in a mood, its probably because you are tired and you haven’t had enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can be one of the few reasons you don’t feel like doing “it”. Get enough sleep and improve your sex life and also your relationship.  A detailed article on how sex and sleep are closely intertwined can be read Now.
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A study on Military pilots and astronauts at NASA found an improvement in performance by 34% and alertness to a 100% with a 40 minute nap.

A 1995 Research by Nasa found a 26 minute Nap to be the most effective improving alertness by 54% and performance By 34%

The Sleep Medicine And Research Center on their research  looked at effectiveness of caffeine and taking naps for people on night shifts. The result concluded that Naps and Caffeine Both were effective in improving alertness and performance in night shift works but the combination of both had the best benefits

Negative Effects of Napping

pet-bedSleep Inertia: Naps are great but if you do it wrong then you risk feeling a lot worse. Apart from the fact that you really don’t want to get off from your nap, the chances are that if you nap too short (less than 10 minutes), you don’t benefit at all and if you sleep a little longer (more than 30 minutes) you feel Groggy. If you feel groggy chances are that it will last up to half an hour to get out of the sleep “hangover”. You will feel a lot better after half an hour and a coffee could boost your performance after the nap.

May affect night time sleep : This is one of the biggest concerns in nappers. If you sleep for more than 30 minutes, you end up in the second or third phase of your sleep which activates your REM and chances are its going to mess your Circadian rhythm and your night sleep cycle. Nap for 20 minutes. The sweet spot is 26 minutes.

Some indications of Heart failure for those already at risk : This is not really proven but research indicates people who already have a heart condition should avoid habitual napping.

FACT : Albert Einstein reportedly slept for 10 hours a night, plus daytime naps.

Stigmas Related to Napping

While naps are considered good for health lately and a lot of new benefits are researched, its not a well accepted practice especially in places of work and business. Many companies think that napping at work is a sign of poor performance even today. Some of the big corporates though are turning this practice positively and encouraging people to nap when they are tired. The japanese have a term for sleeping at work and its called inemuri which translates to “sleeping while present”. Employees are allowed to nap while at work because they understand the increase in performance levels after the nap, but yes there is a stigma in many companies and cultures which believe napping indicates Laziness, Lack of ambition and more. This is most common in people in the demographics of 10-55. Many believe that only children and elders are the only one who need a nap. In reality, anyone , at any age could benefit a lot by a short 15 minute nap once or twice a day.

Types of Nap

Naps fall under 3 major categories and yes there is a fourth kind which is Just for Fun Nap. Just as the name explains, you nap because you just want to nap. But most people nap for a purpose and its either to get some benefit out of it or its habitual.

Planned napping : If You have ever had the need to stay awake late for a project or if there was a party you would have to attend later in the evening which may delay your usual sleep time, a planned nap may be perfect for you. Nap 3 hours prior to the usual sleep time and expect to stay awake longer at night. If you are expecting to sleep by 11 PM while your sleep time is usually around 9, get a nap around 7 pm. A planned Nap can get your more time and energy go late at night.

Emergency Napping : Emergency naps are very common for people who have long drives to take. More than 4-5 hours of driving could usually require a break. Take a nap for 15 minutes and you could go on for another 4 hours. Going without sleep for more than 18 hours will make you feel like your alcohol level is .05 (.08 is considered drunk). A nap could take the edge off and add it with a bit of coffee and you will feel a lot more energized with higher alertness.

Habitual Napping : Habitual napping is common among many people. My dad usually naps 40 minutes after lunch and its a routine which he will now change. Its a habit which is inculcated. Many schools do allow kids to nap for 30 minutes after lunch to ensure that they are attentive for the rest of the day.

Four Stages of Sleep and Where Nap Falls 

Sleep Has 4 stages or phases.

The first stage of sleep is the NREM State this is usually 5-10 minutes from the moment you fall asleep. Waking up from this phase is easy and most people who wake up during this phase will tell you that they weren’t asleep, just had their eyes shut.

The second phase of sleep is also a NREM Stage where in you are preparing to go into deep sleep. This stage usually lasts about 20 minutes. This is the sweet spot for a nap. Your heart rate will go down and your eyes you will notice very slow eye movement. Your body temperature will drop a degree or two. Your brain activity will slow down and your muscles will relax. This phase is relatively a light sleep. Waking up during this phase may be a bit easier than on stage 3. Wake up on the 25th or 26th minute for the best results.

The third stage is the NREM stage 3 And during stage 3 you will see that the brainwave slows down further, muscle relaxes completely and your temperature goes down further. This is the deep sleep stage and at this stage you may find it difficult to wake up. If you do wake up, chances are that you will feel groggy. You may need up to 30 minutes to recover from the groggy-ness and coffee could really help.

The Fourth Stage is the REM stage. At this stage, your body is immobilized. Brain activity is high. You start seeing dreams and you have rapid eye movements. This is the deep sleep phase.

Naps usually fall into the stage one and stage two. Going into stage three will usually interfere with your nighttime sleep.

Nap Time And Efficiency

Time / DurationEffect
10 MinutesAlert and attentive for 3 hours
20 MinuteBoosts Energy and its easy to wake up from nap
30 MinuteHas its own benefits but harder to wake up. Feels groggy
1 HourImproves Short term memory, but you feel groggy. 
1:30 HoursCreativity Improves, Grogginess

 

Tips For Power Nappers

Short Naps : A nap is different from sleep. Expect to wake up after 20-30 minutes. Don’t go any further than 30 minutes. The right time would be 25-26 minutes. Going further than 30 minutes will put you in a deep sleep mode and delay your night time sleep.

Sleep Environment : Choose a right spot. If you are at work, find a spot which is dark, silent and cool.

Time of Nap : The best time to nap is between 1 and 3 pm. This will ensure that you have a great few hours after the nap and also a good night’s sleep later. If you nap later than 4 pm, expect your sleep time to delay.

Get a cup of coffee before your nap. The caffeine will take up to 30 minutes to be on your system and will stay there for 4-6 hours. Coffee just before your nap will not affect your nap and you will find it far easier to wake up.

Set an alarm : Setting an alarm is a good habit. Most often you would fall into deep sleep and find it hard to wake up if you are not woken up in time. Setting an alarm will ensure that you wake up before you fall into a deep sleep (NREM 3).

Sleep Mask : If you are at work or if you are sleeping in a bright area, consider getting a sleep mask. Its cheap and very effective to keep your eyes shut when you are napping in a bright area.

Take of Extra Layers of Clothing, Jackets, scarf etc : Napping is relaxation and you don’t really feel relaxed with those extra layers on you. For men, roll your sleeves and unbutton your top buttons and get your tie off. Your blazer or coat can go too. For women, Get your sweaters off. It may not be possible to get too comfortable and you don’t want to be very comfortable. Remember, it’s nap, not a good night’s sleep.

Turn off The phone : It happens a lot that you are 5 minutes down the line and there is a call. You have just wasted 5 minutes and chances are you wont be able to nap again for a few hours. Keep your phone off or on silent. Ensure that there are no disturbances for the few minutes you are on siesta.

2 Hours before Important meetings or demanding tasks : A big meeting ahead? An important task which requires your attention ahead? Nap 2 hours before the event. You will be fresh and ready for it and feel a lot more confident.

Keep Blanket / Sheets handy. Expect to go cold : Last but not the least, expect it to get cold. Naps will drop your body temperature up to 2 degrees and in some case more. Its going to get cold and a sheet or blanket may come handy.

WARNING : Who Shouldnt Nap 

Insomnia : If you are one of those who suffer from sleep disorders like insomnia, DO NOT NAP. Nap may be beneficial for a lot of people but if you have sleep disorders, chances are you will make things worse by napping now and losing sleep at night. A night time sleep should last at least 8 hours but if its going to be less than 6, you could add a few naps in between. But if your sleep is less than 6 hours, chances are you are not going to fill in the gap with 15 minute naps every few hours. Sleep Debt will catch up soon and in insomnia patients, this could be a lot faster and worse says mayoclinic.

People Who can’t process information after a nap : Some people tend to feel groggy and hard to process information after a short nap. This may last for a few minutes up to half an hour. If you are one of those few who are in need to complete a task immediately after a nap ( a doctor to perform a surgery) its recommended that you not nap or you plan the nap accordingly to commence 2 hours prior to the event.

Feel disoriented after a nap : Its rare, but some people wake up from a nap and look around all confused. They are really not sure if they are at work, home or in some cases they wonder if they are dreaming. This usually happens for people who go into REM mode faster than others and wake up after 20 minutes and usually 3-5 minutes into phase 3 of the sleep. If you are one of those who can hit the button so fast and go to sleep instantly, we recommend that you either cut your nap time by a few minutes or completely avoid naps.

Lack of Productivity after a nap :The problem with people is that naps usually are hard to get out of. 15 minutes of luxury is too less. You really want a bit more of the good stuff and when you get a bit more, you feel groggy and the whole cycle becomes unproductive. With naps, if you cant control, you better keep off. You dont want to end up snoring at work

Naps And Coffee

FACT : Caffeine in coffee takes up to half an hour to have an alerting effect, hence “a short (<15min) nap will not be compromised if it is taken immediately after the coffee.

Its interesting to know that coffee takes up to 15 minutes to take effect and will be in your bloodstream completely after 30 minutes of consumption. So if you drink up in 5 minutes you will still have 10 minutes head start for it to start effect. So ensure that your coffee is not too hot to consume and you will have 5 minutes to consume it. Nap immediately and wake up in 20 minutes for a fresh start.

Research : Sara Mednick conducted a study experimenting on the effects of napping, caffeine, and a placebo. Her results showed that a 60–90-minute nap is more effective than caffeine in memory and cognition.

While coffee alone may get you to be alert for a few minutes, A combination of coffee and a nap would benefit a lot more. Consuming coffee before a nap will enable you to get out of the nap much more easily. The caffeine will kick in after 20 minutes of your nap and you will not feel groggy when you wake up. The caffeine also ensures that you don’t get into deep sleep mode. Consuming a coffee after a nap is good but it will not help you wake up if you go into deep sleep mode.

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Research :  those occasionally napping had a 12% lower coronary mortality, whereas those systematically napping had a 37% lower coronary mortality.

Tips : Power Napping Enablers and sleep timers allow properly timed power napping.

 

Tips : The National Institute of Mental Health funded a team of doctors, led by Alan Hobson, MD, Robert Stickgold, PhD, and colleagues at Harvard University for a study which showed that a midday snooze reverses information overload.

RESEARCH : The 5-minute nap produced few benefits in comparison with the no-nap control. The 10-minute nap produced immediate improvements in all outcome measures (including sleep latency, subjective sleepiness, fatigue, vigor, and cognitive performance), with some of these benefits maintained for as long as 155 minutes. The 20-minute nap was associated with improvements emerging 35 minutes after napping and lasting up to 125 minutes after napping. The 30-minute nap produced a period of impaired alertness and performance immediately after napping, indicative of sleep inertia, followed by improvements lasting up to 155 minutes after the nap . 

 The Effects of Missed Sleep

While naps are excellent remedy to ward of tiredness and weariness, it cannot replace sleep. A short nap cannot be an alternative to a good night’s sleep and should not be replaced. Get 8-9 hours of sleep for better performance and get a midday nap to get the energy required. If you don’t have a good night’s sleep, the nap can get you going for a few hours but sleep debt often catches along creating a lot of health and psychological problems. 

Reaction time : Your ability to react to physical needs and mental tasks will be compromised. A simple task of catching a ball thrown at you randomly will have more success if you had a good night’s sleep than if you were tired. Reaction time slows down drastically if you lose your sleep. If you can’t hold a ball there will be things which requires you to be alert and react accordingly throughout the day. 

Judgment : From Driving to playing ball, judgement is important. You need to judge if you can pass the vehicle ahead of you safely. You need to be able to judge if the kid standing on the sidewalk will run to the road or not and be safe by driving slow. If your judgement is compromised, chances are you are putting other people’s life at risk and yours too.

Vision : With poor sleep comes eye problems and you see things a bit blurred as opposed to when you sleep well. Chances of you getting a dry eye and other infections are higher when you dont sleep well. 

Information processing : It takes time to process the information you are provided. If you are in a meeting , you will find yourself daydreaming or hard to process the information provided. 

Short-term memory : When your mind is tired and you haven’t had enough sleep , you are more passive. Most of the information will pass by without you noticing it. Your short term memory is hampered and this is because its not gathering the information. You are awake but not alert. 

Performance : With lack of sleep comes tiredness and when you are tired, you don’t perform. There isn’t much science to it.

Motivation : Most Kids have trouble getting out of bed. But everyone has a problem getting motivated when they are sleepy. It takes a lot more time and effort to get things started , let alone getting it done. 

Vigilance : Sleep science study on cops indicate that vigilance reduces a lot at the end of the night shift when they have reduced sleep and messed up circadian rhythm. Its the same for everyone and not just cops. You just cannot be alert if you have not had a good nights sleep.

Patience : Many adults get cranky when they don’t have enough sleep. Irritated and snappy when even a small incidents come to the front. While these people would have acted very normally on occasions when they have had a great night’s sleep, chances are that they erupt at small mistakes when they have not had a good night’s sleep.

Quote : Pete Hamill once said, “The replenishing thing that comes with a nap — you end up with two mornings in a day.” 

Fun Fact : Scientists have shown that a 60- to 90-minute siesta can charge up the brain’s batteries as much as eight hours tucked up in bed.

Experiments : participants who napped three times per week had a 37% lower risk of dying from heart disease. 

REsearch : Reporting in Nature Neuroscience, Sara Mednick, PhD, Stickgold and colleagues also demonstrated that “burnout” irritation, frustration and poorer performance on a mental task can set in as a day of training wears on. This study also proved that, in some cases, napping could even boost performance to an individual’s top levels. 

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Companies that Encourage Napping at Work

Uber : Uber has been in a lot of regulatory battles. Unlike the companies which had a presence for more than a decade, uber is a new player and they do their best to keep on par with the regulations. Uber allows their employees to nap and provides a dedicated space to nap in the office.

Huffington Post : Creative work and specially in the press and media industry is tiring and people hardly get enough time to rest. News and publication is constant and being huffington post is in no way small. Huffington post allows their employees to nap at work and have a dedicated nap pod which costs $8000 a piece. https://www.businessinsider.com/huffington-post-nap-room-2012-10?IR=T

Google : Google is one of the first few companies which make workplace fun. People could wear what they were comfortable in, Take their pets to work and even skate around. But then the Nap pods were one of the few additions which seemed less important at that time with so much to go around. Yes google allows napping at work and they have nap pods in place for their employees.

Samsung : Samsung too Provides the Best nap pods, MetroNaps for their employees. Employees are encouraged to take naps at work when required and get back when they are fresh and ready. 

Zappos : I would rank Zappos next to google when it comes to company culture. A room dedicated to relaxation for your employees. That’s very thoughtful. The Zappos Nap room is not a simple one. You have a 35000 Saltwater aquarium, 4 massage chairs and a nap pod. I wouldn’t know a better way to siesta!

NASA : Nasa is one of the few companies which did research on sleep and Naps. They understood the value of naps and encouraged employees to nap at work when required. Most Nasa employees had a high level of responsibility and little margin of error. Naps were important and a good space to Nap was just as important. Metronaps is also the nap pod provider for Nasa.

Other Companies who have incorporated nap facilities or nap pods include 

  • Proctor and Gamble
  • Mercedes-Benz Financial Services
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers
  • White and Case Law Firm
  • Ben & Jerry’s
  • Nike
  • Cisco
  • Potato (App and WEb designers)

Unfortunately Some companies did not find the benefit of napping at work and the whole nap program back fired. Askfortasks.com saw a 35% decrease in productivity over the period of 6 months after implementing nap pods at work  . I wouldn’t know who is to blame, the company culture which puts in a fixed time of work (9 to 5 scenario) or companies like google which encourage working at your own pace to get results. Many employees in google tend to work at their own pace. Many would probably work more than 9-10 hours and spend a great amount of time at the premises. Whatever the reason, you can expect setbacks in some companies.

Famous People Who Napped their way to success

Thomas Alva Edison : Known for only 4 hours of sleep at night but took several power naps throughout the day

Leanardo Da vinci : Da Vinci was known to take 15 minute naps every 4 hours to recharge himself. He would  never miss a nap and it was habitual and part of his routine.

Bill Clinton : Known for napping in inappropriate places and time, bill says that he would steal 15 -30 minute naps when he could, specially when he couldn’t get enough sleep at night.

Margaret Thatcher : The Iron Lady was known to sleep only 4 hours at night but ensured that she was not disturbed come hell or high water from 2:30-3:30 pm. Nap time of 1 hour got her working for the next few hours.

Winston Churchil : Winston churchil had a bed in the office where he could get a short nap when he needed it most. He believed nature did not 

Albert einstein : The famous scientist slept 10 hours a day and took occasional naps during the day. He was consistent about his need for sleep and an icon who believes less sleep isn’t necessarily good for creativity

Arnold Schwarzenegger : The body builder and governor of california took naps during the day when required after a 2 hour regimen in the gym the 72 year old has shown the world that rest, diet and workout are important to be successful.

Coming Soon :

Introducing Metronaps – The Nap Pod Creators For Workspace

Could a sudden increased need for naps indicate a health problem?