How Power Naps can Help Boost Productivity & Creativity

It’s Time for a Siesta. 

Since I came back from my summer holiday in Europe, I’ve been experimenting with different sleeping patterns. Partly due to the jet-lagged and massive time difference, also partly because of my curiosity, wanting to find out which kind of sleeping patterns suit me the best.

When I was in Barcelona, I adopted the Spanish sleeping pattern with a siesta (nap) after lunch. Growing up in China, I had always been a big fan of siesta (yes, not only the Spanish take siestas, so do the Chinese).

In China, almost the entire country hibernate after lunch, generally between 1-2pm, all students and workers would take a one hour siesta. It is quite common to see workers pull out their sleeping bags under the desk and laying on the floor for a nap. It is almost considered a Constitutional right.

I love how refreshing and rejuvenating a siesta made you feel afterward. You feel more energetic after waking up as if one day has been divided by two and you are ready to start another day again.

I have also noticed that a siesta can make you more productive and creative. It should be commonsense that when a person is well rested and relaxed, he or she will become more productive and creative.

I feel good ideas and inspirations would often come and visit me when I am half-awake, the state where your mind becomes very relaxed, you are still conscious and haven't yet fallen into deep sleep. I heard words speaking to me when I was in siesta and woke up finishing writing an article in no time, comparing to sitting in front of the desk for hours and struggling to think of what to write.

It really is no secret that a siesta has many benefits. It is incredibly beneficial for our health, and also help to boost productivity and creativity.

A bit of Google search would reveal that great minds like Einstein, Aristotle, and Salvador Dali knew exactly how to use a siesta to inspire great ideas and creating wonders.

Apparently sleep has multiple stages. In particular, there is a stage called hypnagogia, which means 'abducting into sleep." the in-between state where you are just beginning to dream but are still conscious. 

Poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, whose “Kubla Khan” is a record of half-dreamed reverie. Composer Ludwig van Beethoven, who grabbed ideas while napping in his carriage. Inventor Thomas Edison, who said that his mind was flooded with images when he was half-awake. Composer Richard Wagner, whose Ring Cycle has hypnagogic images. Philosopher John Dewey, who said people were most creative when they are “relaxed to the point of reverie.” The list of hypnagogic creative types goes on.

No wonder the legendary Arianne Huffington is a fierce advocate for more sleep, and I cannot wait to read her new book 'the Sleep Revolution.' Great to see that influential people like Arianne Huffington are leaping to advocate for a more balanced and healthy lifestyle. 

I genuinely believe that in our modern age where we always try to achieve more and do more, a little more sleep can go a long way. So 'sleeping your way to the top' can actually work! And it should probably be the corporate world's new mantra. 

When employees are well-rested, it should only be natural that they would become more productive and creative, and companies can generate more profit, sounds like effortlessly abundant to me.

I also attempted regular naps, known as the polyphasic sleeping, as a way of experiment. Polyphasic sleeping was good for me, but it just means I will stay awake at night. And if I have to go to work during the morning, I would be quite sleepy. So I resort to just one nap a day. 

Thomas Edison and Leonardo da Vinci both have the most extreme sleep cycles of the bunch: Edison followed a polyphasic cycle, aiming for six half-hour long naps spread at regular intervals throughout any given 24-hour period. Polymath Leonardo da Vinci, meanwhile, used the Uberman cycle, taking a 20-minute nap roughly every four hours.

All in all, Edison tended to clock in about three hours of sleep per day, while da Vinci came in at two hours. Interestingly, Nicola Tesla also slept only two hours per 24-hour cycle — but he did it all in one go between midnight and 2 am.

I was curious to try out the uberman sleep schedule, but apparently, my body could not deal with just two hours of sleep a day.  So I resorted to taking one nap a day whenever I could and enjoying the incredible benefit of this break gives me. I would highly recommend to anyone if you have not yet experienced it. 


“Your future depends on your dreams, so go to sleep!” -Mesut Barazany