- The surrealist painter, Salvador Dali,
had a pretty interesting hack for generating new
During the afternoons he would sit in his chair
with one arm draped over the side of that chair
holding a key.
And beneath that key there was an upside down plate.
From there he would let himself drift off until just
before the moment he was about to fall asleep.
At which point the key would fall from his hand
to clatter onto the plate and wake him up,
often with a new artistic idea in his mind.
Dali called this technique sleeping without sleeping.
But you might recognize it as a pre-alarm clock version
of the modern power nap.
And he wasn't the only one who used this.
Thomas Edison was rumored to do the exact same thing
with a ball baring instead of a key and Beethoven,
while he didn't use this key and plate method,
was fond of taking naps in his carriage in order to
get new musical ideas.
All of these people knew well the benefits of an
afternoon nap which is, if you think about it,
probably the best productivity technique ever.
I mean, if you think about all the other ones we've
talked about on this channel, whether it be the Fineman
technique or the Pomodoro technique,
or even just cleaning up your study space,
they all kind of sort of involve work,
which makes them a hassle.
- Right? Who needs that.
- Right? - Right.
- By contrast, taking a nap in the afternoon involves
basically no effort whatsoever and yet has a ton
of productivity benefits.
It can help deal with feelings of fatigue and leave
you more energetic for the rest of the day and it
can also help with creativity and memory consolidation.
But if you do it wrong it could also just leave you
feeling groggy and waste a ton of your time.
And because of that I put on my researching hat this week
and I wanted to figure out what actually make a good
productive afternoon nap?
So that is what you're going to learn in this video
and I've got five big things to share with you
ranging from basic nap techniques to some more advanced
stuff and some tools and even an app that can help you out.
But first we do need to answer the question why do
people like to nap in the first place?
There are a couple really important reasons for this.
Number one being that a lot of people are actually
pretty sleep deprived.
In fact, a couple years ago the CDC put to some statistics
showing that over 40 million people in the US alone
get less than six hours of sleep per night.
That being said, there is one other big reason
why people like to take naps and it has to do
with your circadian rhythm.
That built-in biological mechanism that governs the
ebbs and flows of your energy levels throughout the day.
Most people experience their biggest dip in energy
levels in the middle of the night, around two to four AM
when they are, conveniently, fast asleep.
But there is another pretty big dip in energy levels
in the afternoon around the hours of one to three PM.
Now, the degree to which your energy actually drops
in the afternoon is definitely gonna vary,
both from person to person and based on a ton of different
factors including the quality and amount of sleep
you actually got at night.
But the fact still remains that an afternoon is a great
way to deal with that dip in energy when it happens.
So that brings us to our big question,
how do you take a proper afternoon nap?
One that leaves you feeling revitalized and productive
afterwards instead of like a truck hit you,
basically, which is what I've always experienced.
The first tip I have for you has to do with the
duration and timing of your nap.
And we'll start with duration.
For most people the best nap duration out there is
gonna be a 10 to 20 minute nap,
the typical power nap.
The reasoning for this has to do with the sleep cycle,
which I detailed in other videos so I'm not gonna
get too deep into here, but basically sleep happens
in a cycle of about 90 minutes an it goes through
several different stages.
The later stages of the sleep cycle involve slower
brain wave activity and if you're woken up during
one of these stages, you're gonna experience what's
called sleep inertia.
That feeling of grogginess and that desire to go right
back to sleep, which is not what you want from an
Now, if you happen to have 90 minutes free in the
afternoon, then by all means, get yourself a 90 minute nap,
get a full revolution through that sleep cycle and
that's actually gonna get you some additional benefits
that a power nap won't get you,
such as memory consolidation.
But I'm guessing that you, like me, and most other people
don't have an entire hour and a half in the afternoon
to spend conked out on a couch.
So 10 to 20 minutes is going to be the best bang
for your buck and you're gonna want to take that
10 to 20 minutes between the hours of one to four PM.
This is because before one PM you're probably not
gonna be all that tired, that afternoon energy dip hasn't
hit you yet, but more important, after four PM
if you take a nap you risk messing with your night's sleep.
So try to stick it within that window.
Now at this point some of you probably have a little
nagging question in the back of your mind that has
to do with that 10 to 20 minutes recommendation.
And that's that it takes people quite a white to
fall asleep, right?
And you're correct, the average person takes around
14 minutes to fall asleep at night and some people
definitely take longer.
So given that, wouldn't a 10 to 20 minute power nap
be basically useless if you're not gonna fall asleep
15 minutes into it?
That was my suspicion, as well, but then I came across
an article on Life Hacker called How I Mastered the
Power Nap written by a guy named Daniel Tenor.
And through his experience he realized that he could
gain a lot of benefits from napping even if he didn't
The act of simply laying down and closing your eyes
for a while and just relaxing can help with those feelings
of fatigue and make you more productive.
And what's more, he noticed that getting rid of that
expectation to fall asleep can actually help you
eventually learn to fall asleep more easily.
And he notes that napping is a skill.
So when you start out you may not be able to fall asleep
or get into that relaxed state,
but after a while you're gonna find it easier
and easier to do.
Alright my third tip for you here has to do with
And it's gonna come as a surprise to basically nobody
watching this that the best environment for taking
a nap is pretty much the best environment for going
to sleep, as well.
Someplace that's dark and quiet.
But the problem is, unless you work from home,
you probably don't have access to a perpetually
dark and quiet place.
And that's why keeping a couple of simple tools
in your bag can help you out a lot.
For starters you can pick a $5 eye mask at Target
or Walmart and that can make basically any place
dark and as a bonus it will definitely come in handy
if you ever find yourself on a red eye flight,
which I did a couple of weeks ago.
And on the noise front, ear plugs are extremely cheap
and really easy to use, or if you can afford it and
you are able to sleep on your back instead of your side,
noise canceling headphones can definitely be
a good investment.
Speaking of headphones, my fourth tip for your here
is to try out an app called Peziz, or Piziz or Pizaz,
I don't know how to pronounce it, but it's a pretty
cool app for helping you take a nap.
At it's core this is an app that generates ambient
soundscapes that are great for falling asleep.
And you also have the option of having a voice
guide you to sleep, kind of like a guided meditation.
And there's a lot of granularity in your options
with that voice.
You can turn it off completely or you can actually have
it fade out after a few minutes and just transition
to that music.
Additionally there's a sleep timer function so you
can tell it you only want to nap for 20 minutes
and it'll wake you up, which will help prevent you
falling into those deeper stages of the sleep schedule
and hitting that sleep inertia.
And that brings us to our last and most advanced tip
which is to try taking a coffee nap which involves
drinking a cup of coffee or something else caffeinated
and them immediately taking a 20 minute power nap.
You're probably thinking to yourself that this
sounds stupid, right?
Because caffeine is going to interfere with the quality
of your sleep.
But actually caffeine takes about 20 minutes to really
kick in in your system so by immediately taking a
power nap right after you drink that cup of coffee
you actually gain the benefits of both a nap and
a cup of coffee.
I've seen several prominent internet people praising
the benefits of this practice and yes I am going to go
with internet people because I can't think of a better
term for it.
But CGP Gray uses it, Tim Ferris uses it,
and studies done in both the UK and Japan have found
that it is more beneficial than a nap alone or
And to give you a little insight into how this works,
essentially as you go through the day your brain generates
a chemical called adenosine which builds up the
desire to sleep.
Now obviously once you take a nap your brain is going
to clear out some of that adenosine by sleeping,
which is gonna help you feel more energized and get
rid of those feelings of fatigue.
And, as you may have heard me talk about in other
videos, caffeine molecules are actually very similar
in structure to adenosine molecules.
Which means that they actually block those adenosine
receptors preventing the actual adenosine molecules
from plugging into them and making you feel tired.
So you kind of get the best of both worlds.
The nap clears out the adenosine that's already there
and the caffeine prevents more from plugging into
those receptors, making you feel more alert.
Now one word of warning here, if you are gonna try
this technique out, you still do need to be very careful
about building up a dependence to caffeine.
So if you are gonna try taking a coffee nap,
maybe take it easy on the coffee in the earlier part
of the day.
And I do want to note one other thing while I'm
talking about warnings here and basically being
your dad, which is that naps should not be used
as a band-aid.
They should not be used to cover up other bad health
habits that are constantly making you tired.
Aside from getting enough sleep at night you should be
making sure that you get enough exercise,
you should make sure that you go outside and get
sunlight exposure often enough,
make sure that you're drinking enough water,
make sure that your nutrition is good.
Basically everything I talked about in my why you're
always tired video you should be making sure that
you have taken care of in your life.
Provided that you do have those things taken care of,
though, naps can be one more tool in your arsenal
for helping boost your productivity in the middle
of the day.
And as Edison and Dali and many others throughout history
knew well a nap can also help to boost your creativity
and might actually help you solve a tough problem
that you've been stuck on.
And on that note, if you're looking for tough
problems to solve, problems that will improve your critical
thinking skills, your analytical abilities,
and improve your master in both math and science
then you should check out Brilliant.
Brilliant is a learning platform that takes an active
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And throughout their courses on astronomy,
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computer memory, and many many more you're gonna find
yourself immediately thrown into challenging problems
that, number one, build your interest in the subject
immediately, which often doesn't happen in courses that
start more passively, and build your expertise much
Additionally, when you find yourself stuck on a
challenging problem in one of their courses,
you're also gonna find an extremely detailed wiki
with tons of example problems details that can help to
flush out your understanding and an active community
of thousands of other learners.
So if you want to start improving your problem solving
abilities, I highly recommend giving Brilliant a try.
You can go over to brilliant.org/thomasfrank to start
learning for free today and the first 83 people who
click on that link in the description down below
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Huge thanks to Brilliant for sponsoring this video
and being a continued supporter of this channel and,
as always guys, thank you so much for watching.
Also it has come to my attention that a lot of you
do not know that I have a podcast.
And I do, I do it with my friend Martin every single week
so if you want more content like this,
but in a longer format definitely check out our
latest episode right here.
Lastly you can find one more video on this channel
right over here.
Smash your face on your phone, do whatever you want,
I'm not your dad, do whatever you want,
I don't care man.
Yeah, video's over.
I'ma go take a nap.