What do Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison all have in common? They’ve all made considerable contributions to the advancement of mankind, they’re all distinguished in their respective fields, and they were all avid power nappers.

Napping can be a great way to catch up on sleep, increase productivity and become more creative. By obtaining merely 20 minutes of sleep in the afternoon your body and mind will recharge and provide the extra push required to have a successful, productive day. A whole body of research shows that a midday snooze can boost productivity and alertness in the workplace.

Reserch shows that you can make yourself more alert, reduce stress and improve cognitive functioning with a nap. Mid-day sleep, or a “power nap”, means more patience, less stress, increased learning, better health, better reaction time, more efficiency and also many athletes find a daytime nap further increases their body’s ability to build muscle. Napping also benefits heart functioning, hormonal maintenance, and cell repair, says Dr. Sara Mednick, a scientist at the Salk Institute for Biologicak Studies.

A power nap, says Mednick, simply maximizes these benefits by getting the sleeper into and out of rejuvenative sleep as fast as possible. No surprise that Lance Armstrong’s coach, Chris Carmichael, says that “naps were critical in his overall training plan.”

So, how to get the perfect nap? Everyone, no matter how high-strung, has the capacity to nap, but the conditions need to be right. Here are some helpful hints by Dr. Sara Mednick:

1. The first consideration is psychological: Recognize that you’re not being lazy; napping will make you more productive and more alert after you wake up.
2. Try to nap in the morning or just after lunch; human circadian rhythms make late afternoons a more likely time to fall into deep (slow-wave) sleep, which will leave you groggy.
3. Avoid consuming large quantities of caffeine as well as foods that are heavy in fat and sugar, which meddle with a person’s ability to fall asleep.
4. Instead, in the hour or two before your nap time, eat foods high in calcium and protein, which promote sleep.
5. Find a clean, quiet place where passersby and phones won’t disturb you.
6. Try to darken your nap zone, or wear an eyeshade. Darkness stimulates melatonin, the sleep- inducing hormone.
7. Remember that body temperature drops when you fall asleep. Raise the room temperature or use a blanket.
8. Once you are relaxed and in position to fall asleep, set your alarm for the desired duration

How Long Is A Good Nap?

THE NANO-NAP: 10 to 20 seconds Sleep studies haven’t yet concluded whether there are benefits to these brief intervals, like when you nod off on someone’s shoulder on the train.
THE MICRO-NAP: 2 to 5 minutes Shown to be surprisingly effective at shedding sleepiness.
THE MINI-NAP: 5 to 20 minutes Increases alertness, stamina, motor learning, and motor performance.
THE ORIGINAL 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).

Try out this 20 minute Power Napper for yourself. Right click to download file (18MB, mp3 file)

Feel the benefits now.