Rat Race designed by Luis Prado from The Noun Project

Rat Race designed by Luis Prado from The Noun Project

Conclusion: Power naps work best for brain-reboots. I found that the main key is listening to your own internal clock on when the best “time” is for you that day. Lots of articles advise a set time (and to be fair, I’ve only done this for a week so far), but I found that some days I was in the middle of cruising along in my work and would have to abruptly stop it, because it was my “nap time,” though I wasn’t particularly tired yet. Often, it was hard to pick back up where I left off — but entirely refreshing if it was a project I was struggling with or a problem I needed to solve. Overall, power naps are definitely something I will continue to use in my work process.

Monday, 01/13/14: The best nap-conditions may be tricky at times to find at work, but they’re not impossible.

1.) Stay warm. Your body temperature drops as you snooze, so pull your coat over yourself, put on a hoodie, or find a blanket.
2.) Make it dark. Eye masks are key for those who can’t shut out the lights, and they come in a wide-variety of styles (even ones that don’t press down on your eyes).
3.) Keep it short. If you’re worried about it taking a little longer for you to fall asleep, set your alarm for 30 minutes instead of the 20, so that you have some extra time to doze off before you start eating into your napping time.
4.) Control the noise. Some people are soothed by some background noise, but for the rest of us there are ear plugs. 

Tuesday, 01/14/14: It was hard to shake the guilt and anxiety that hit when I first laid down in our corner-couch nook. It’s still a cultural taboos in most American workplaces. In countries like Japan, it’s not uncommon for the highest (and lowest) ranking workers to fall asleep in their chairs at their desk (it’s called “inemuri,” which translates to “to be asleep while present”) and is a sign of dedication. It’s becoming more common for workplaces to allow, and even encourage, napping, but it’s still something I had never done before this #labrat.

Wednesday, 01/15/14: The more I take naps, the more I shake the sleeping-at-work guilt. Today (after a few minutes of being dazed wore off) I felt refreshed.

Thursday, 01/16/14: I put 27 minutes on my alarm instead of the usual 20, to give myself more room to fall asleep first. It’s surprising the difference a few extra minutes makes.

Friday, 01/17/14: A caffeine nap is when you quickly drink coffee, fall asleep before the caffeine can affect you, and (the idea goes) you wake up extra-awake and ready to go. However, the caffeine nap theory often leaves out how important it is that you drink your coffee black. I chugged my cream-and-sugar-with-coffee coffee in six minutes. At first I felt like I was vibrating. I have no idea how long I was asleep out of the 27 minutes I allotted, but I do know that when my alarm went off, I was up. Usually after a naps it would take me  5 – 10 minutes for the fog to clear. Today I felt like I was launched out of a cannon.

According to your natural circadian rhythm, you’re at your sleepiest between 2 to 4:00 a.m. and 1 to 3:00 p.m. Sounds like a cruel trick with the way the workday was set up, doesn’t it?

For years I’ve combated the “afternoon slump” with coffee, but studies show that you’re better off giving into the call of sleep for a few minutes than fighting it. In fact, napping has much bigger rewards than caffeine; just 20 minutes is said to provide an alertness boost, with 30 to 60 minutes good for cognitive memory and creativity, and 60 to 90 minutes enough for problem solving.

So we’ve decided to test out 20-minute power naps in the real world of open office plans and 9 to 5’s. For this week, I’ll be power napping (or trying to, anyways) every day and reporting back on what it’s really like to declare it nap time in the middle of your work day.

Join us with your own week of afternoon power naps! Follow this post for daily updates and to add yours in the comments, or on Twitter and Instagram using #labrat.


  • malynixon

    It works great. After drinking 3 coffees per day I quit coffee 3 months ago and replaced it with strictly 15 min nap at the point when I get tired. This one (sometimes 2 naps per day) nap surprisingly keeps me going whole day alert with no need for coffee. Btw. if you’re used to drink coffee every day, be prepared for withdrawal symptoms (more tired, potential headache), it will take about a week until you’ll be able to tell whether naps work well for you or not.

    • Kirsty Wain

      I’m a fan of the snooze, it works! 🙂

  • http://www.robertocortese.it/ Roberto Cortese

    It works great! I’ve been doing it for two years now and every afternoon I feel like I’m reborn! Not to mention the number of problems I solve by having great ideas 🙂 I’m sure you’ll enjoy 20 mins naps!

  • Ross

    Haha what? Do you wear sunglasses or something? :S

  • jmmoralespinola

    “Spanish” habit FTW ! Love this #labrat

  • Anthony Wells

    Hey guys, the share link is not working for Facebook and LinkedIn , worked for twitter. Anthony Wells http://www.TheFreelanceSpotlight.com and TheFreelanceSpotlight Podcast on iTunes. Let me know if it’s just my end, could be my iPhone or something, anyways I will try with my CPU, cause I want to share this.

    • Sasha

      Thanks for the head’s up, but they work fine over here on computer AND our iPhones. Try it again and see? Could’ve been a connection issue.

  • car sleeper

    This DOES work and does not require much effort. Well, depending on where you live. I worked for two years in UK near London, and I used to sleep in the car after lunch. 15 minutes daily for 2 years straight, no exceptions thanks to the weather. The result? The happiest and the most creative time of my life. Plus at around 3pm I was always the most alert and clear-thinking person in the office. BTW, I do not drink coffee at all.

  • Revu2

    Hi, faced this challenge when I left freelancing and began a full-time office job. There’s little support in my office for this and it’s shocking how difficult it is to be alone and non-alert in they city. My solution is unorthodox: use tanning rooms w/o the power on! Think about it—these places already have the space and a business model for letting out rooms for 20-30 minutes.

  • Monica Garcia

    I work from home so it’s easy and I noticed that when I take naps I’m able to work longer, I’m more productive and that creative energy just flows. Sometimes it’s only 20 minutes and sometimes it’s two hours – I’ve learned to just let me body go and get the sleep it needs. Of course I’m a night owl – so I’m often working after midnight! Thanks for sharing!

  • Kama

    I have been doing this for the last 8 years and must agree with this article. After the nap Its like your day starts again. Very refreshing. 🙂

  • Halucinated Design

    I definitely take a 20 minute power nap after lunch. It’s the reason why I got a futon in my office. I wish it was part of the American culture to do so though. =)

  • Dubem Menakaya

    I’ve started taking naps, it definitely does work. It’s like sports – you get tired at the end of a half, so I view the nap as ‘half-time’ and it allows me to attack the second half with renewed vigour!

  • Bogdan

    Napping is individual thing. You feel like you need it – you take it.

    Napping Time as a time interval (duration) is important part for good and discipline napping so you don’t feel crashed after it.

    Thats why me and my friends built an simple power nap app

    Also napping is great for other things too not just to get more working hours .. its also for having more straight & time with your family & friends and other side “things” during the day ..

  • http://todowiz.biz/ Alvis Andersonq

    I personally experience power naps are important and this is a must thing in my daily todo list yeah my daily organizer is http://todowiz.biz/

  • http://www.compulsivecreative.com/ Jason Love

    Since being let go from my job and working on an “at home” business, I find myself taking 2-hour naps daily. I can’t figure out how I lived without them.

    I consider myself a morning person and I feel a major boost of motivation and energy after most naps. Sometimes I sleep too long or I am interrupted. This can throw me off for the rest of the day, but I would say 4 out of 5 times I get the perfect amount and enjoy working more.

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