5 Compelling Health Benefits of Napping

I was recently on location with a world-renowned photographer. Despite a grueling, breakneck schedule of dawn scouts followed by into-the-wee-hour shoots, he maintained the most chipper of demeanors and possessed seemingly boundless energy. On day three of our back-to-back schedule, I ducked out to grab my third coffee of the day and returned to discover his magic secret: He was napping. On the job. Literally.

I asked what he was doing curled in the fetal position of a conference room at the Hilton awaiting a portrait session with a noteworthy musician. His response: “The ability to fall asleep anywhere is the secret to my success.”

Naptime should be reinstated, and there’s sufficient hard data to back up this movement. According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 85% of mammals are polyphasic sleepers—i.e., the rest of the animal kingdom sleeps in intervals throughout the day. Humans are among the only mammals that function on monophasic sleep, grabbing all our z’s in a single nightly dose.

It turns out the grand tradition of napping has been a celebrated part of history. The ancient Romans were on board; they were biphasic sleepers, breaking at hora sexta (noon) for a midday snooze. Thus the siesta culture was born, and it’s still upheld in much of Europe. Trying to get a decent anything in Barcelona at 3 p.m. is a Sisyphean task. The whole city is taking time off.

Here in the West, we skew toward the sleep-deprived side of the scale. While naps might not fit into our current 9-to-5 daily grind structure, the benefits are worth considering a rewrite to American culture. Even Einstein famously mastered the art. Could micro-napping be the secret to absolute focus? Keep scrolling to discover all the benefits the daily practice could unlock for your health.