The daytime nap, or siesta, has been a fundamental part of many cultures and societies. Attitudes toward it, however, differ materially. To make an informed decision based on the benefits and pitfalls, let us rely on the latest scientific findings:


  1.  Improves memory consolidation when administered after a learning session. Studies at Saarland University found that napping after an intense learning session resulted in a five-fold improvement in information retrieval.
  2.  Refreshes and restores energy
  3.  Reduces sensitivity to pain. A study published in PloS one showed that allowing sleep-deprived subjects to have naps reduced their sensitivity to pain (which was amplified by the sleep deprivation).
  4.  Reduces stress responses & lowers blood pressure. Studies at Allegheny College, Pennsylvania, demonstrated that naps lasting between 45-60 minutes had a significant positive effect on the cardiovascular system, and helped cope with mental stresses.


  1.  May disrupt circadian rhythms.
  2.  May worsen insomnia.
  3.  Timing is important: Napping for 30 minutes breaks the process at the slow wave portion of the sleep cycle. Such failure to complete the sleep cycle is commonly termed as "sleep inertia"-a disoriented state in which one is often characterized as being more tired than prior to the nap.


  1.  To minimize the possibility of interruption to the circadian rhythm, the optimal time to have a nap is between the hours of 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. So time your naps accordingly.
  2.  Organize your study time to conclude a few minutes prior to your designated naptime. This will materially improve your ability to recall what you learnt.
  3.  Where napping is not feasible, or where frequent study sessions take place during the day, in USM we employ specific meditation techniques that induce the brain frequencies associated with napping—to deliver a comparable memory consolidation benefit.
  4.  If you notice that your night-time sleep is adversely affected, discontinue or modify the naps.
  5.  If insomnia worsens following the addition of naps, discontinue the naps.

So catch those extra Z's!


Anthony, William A. 2001. The art of napping at work: the no-cost, natural way to increase productivity and satisfaction. Souvenir.

Brindle, Ryan, and Sarah Conklin. 2011. “Daytime sleep accelerates cardiovascular recovery after psychological stress.” International Journal of Behavioral Medicine 19 (1): 111-114.

Faraut, Brice, Damien Léger, Terkia Medkour, Alexandre Dubois, Virginie Bayon, Mounir Chennaoui, and Serge Perrot. 2015. “Napping Reverses Increased Pain Sensitivity Due to Sleep Restriction.” PloS one 10 (2).

Hayashi, Mitsuo, Sanae Ito, and Tadao Hori. 1999. “The effects of a 20-min nap at noon on sleepiness, performance and EEG activity.” International journal of Psychophysiology 32 (2): 173-180.

KAIDA, Kosuke, Masaya TAKAHASHI, and Yasumasa OTSUKA. 2007. “A Short Nap and Natural Bright Light Exposure Improve Positive Mood Status.” Industrial health 45 (2): 301-308.

Rosekind, Mark R., R. Curtis Graeber, David F. Dinges, Linda J. Connell, Michael S. Rountree, Cheryl L Spinweber, and Kelly A. Gillen. 1994. Crew factors in flight operations 9: Effects of planned cockpit rest on crew performance and alertness in long-haul operations. Technical Report, NASA Ames Research Center; Moffett Field, CA, United States.

Studte, Sara, Emma Bridger, and Axel Mecklinger. 2015. “Nap sleep preserves associative but not item memory performance.” Neurobiology of Learning and Memory 120: 84-93.

Tassi, Patricia, and Alain Muzet. 2000. “Sleep inertia.” Sleep medicine reviews 4 (4): 341-353.

Rod Bremer is the author of The Manual: A Guide to the Ultimate Study Method (Second Edition), ISBN 978-0993496424. The Manual is the definitive guide to Enhanced Concentration, Super Memory, Speed Reading, Optimal Note-Taking, Rapid Mental Arithmetic, and the Ultimate Study Method (USM). The techniques presented are the culmination of decades of practical experience combined with the latest scientific research and time-tested practices.

(For more about The Manual, see here.)




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