Success Rituals: Power Naps

Success Rituals: Design Your Habits – Change Your Life

Power Naps

One of the least discussed success rituals is power naps.

Yes, you read that right.

Power naps.

You may have heard of the Thomas Edison’s infamous power naps where he’d lay down in his lab with a marble or ball bearing in his hand. He’d doze off for a few minutes—until his hand relaxed enough for him to drop the ball—the sound would wake him and he’d resume working on whatever he’d been doing prior to the power nap.

Many people have mistakenly taken this as a sign of eccentricity or just a quirky part of his creative genius but in actuality power naps have been one of the success rituals used by several Presidents (John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan & Bill Clinton) as well as Albert Einstein, Napoleon Bonaparte, commercial jet pilots, military pilots and brain scientists.

Power naps are often used to compensate for not getting enough sleep the night before or for helping restore energy when fighting off an illness or stress. But there is a less known advantage to power naps that is not widely taught that you can use to considerable advantage.

Brain research has shown that when learning something new, the first six hours after you learn or practice the new skill or subject is critical. This is when the initial memory consolidation takes place whether you’re asleep or awake. But studies show that the memory consolidation and any enhancements your brain does with the material is improved dramatically if you take a power nap of one hour or less during those first 6 hours after studying the new material or practicing the new activity you’re learning. More than one hour of a power nap does NOT help.

According to an article by Jane E. Brody ( a NASA scientist’s study indicated that 24 minute power naps significantly improved a pilot’s alertness & performance on trans-Atlantic flights. This closely matches findings I witnessed first-hand in sleep deprivation studies done with U.S. Air Force pilots when I worked in the flight simulation center.

So, how do you use this information on power naps as one of your success rituals?

Here’s two simple ways to add power naps as one of your success rituals:

1. Anytime you’re feeling low on energy or run down from a lack of sleep, use part of your lunch hour or break time to find a quiet and preferably dark spot to lay down or recline and relax. Set your watch or cell phone alarm for anywhere from 12-52 minutes. Then just focus on your breathing and letting all the tension in your muscles escape your body. Don’t worry about falling asleep. That’s why you set the alarm. Don’t try to force yourself to sleep either. Forcing yourself is counterproductive. Relaxing is the key.

When your alarm goes off, slowly get up and take some long deep breaths and see how you feel.

The first time I did this years ago, I didn’t notice an immediate effect because I was wanting more sleep. But as the afternoon went on, I noticed I was more alert and had an extra reserve of energy that hadn’t been there before the power nap.

2. Any time you’re learning something new, see if you can sneak in a 12-52 minute power nap in the first 6 hours immediately following your study session or practice session, class or whatever learning situation you’re in. This will help your brain consolidate the information better and give you an advantage over others trying to learn the same thing.

Cautionary Note:

This does not work with multiple subjects. For instance, if you’re learning to play guitar but between your guitar lesson and your power nap you also decide to take a cooking lesson, your brain will not consolidate the information efficiently. Stick to one topic or one new skill and your new success rituals use of power naps will be a major benefit to you.

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13 Responses to Success Rituals: Power Naps

  1. Eva Palmer says:

    Oh! that’s been “a must” in the Spanish culture for centuries…nowadays, no more time for “siesta”…
    Kevin, that would be a good practice for Boot Camp, wouldn’it…?

  2. This is a great and important post.
    I work a pretty long duration day, every day.
    And I usually take at least one short nap
    per day. Sometimes two.
    Great information for all.

  3. I’ve heard of the brilliant idea of power naps as a success habit but I had not before ever heard of using them for better absorbing new information. Great new concept to learn from you as a success ritual.

    What do you think are some of the success habits that make the professional dancers on “Dancing with the Stars” so great and outstanding in their fields?

    Happy Dating and Relationships,

    April Braswell
    Internet Dating Profile Writer

  4. Peggy Larson says:

    Very interesting to learn about the brain processing information better when including a nap.

    I wonder if I’d wake up when the alarm went off. Would be great if it worked but if it didn’t it would be really embarrassing for someone to find me asleep at my desk or in a conference room.


  5. Kevin Bettencourt says:

    Really cool post. I’m 18 minutes almost every time and it really helps out.

    Las Vegas Air Conditioning Repair

  6. A power nap can be helpful.

  7. Clare Delaney says:

    Fascinating! I knew about power naps – though for some reason I have never taken them myself – but I was really interested to know about new knowledge retention being enhanced. I think I will start – thank you!

    Eco-Friendly Tips, Articles & Products

  8. Michael, I try to get a half and hour nap in every day. It is good for the relaxation and I normally feel better afterwards.
    Scott Sylvan Bell
    Persuasive selling skills multiplied
    Now go implement!

  9. Eva Palmer says:

    I followed your advice today! it really made a difference!

    Barcelona Hipnosis

  10. Neil Dhawan says:

    Phenomenal information! Thank you for explaining that the main purpose is to relax – as most people, when told to take a short nap, believe they must be in an r.e.m. state to receive the benefits. Good tips and a great article!

    Best, Neil

  11. joanpi says:

    True it works, but only if you don’t pass an hour limit. Although sleeping well at night is also essential. Because if you have slept less than 4hrs at night, take a power nap, not that sure you going to hear the alarm & end up wasting power nap + sleep cycle (I’ve been there hehe). Nice article, creativity goes along with sleep in balance.

  12. Pingback: The Masters of the Mind: Memory Enhancement - Power Naps | The Masters of the Mind

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