Napping might seem like a luxury for someone who has less responsibilities or who isn’t as driven as you are. But there are many accounts of influential thinkers and leaders who regularly took naps. One of my favorites is the story that Eleanor Roosevelt routinely took a nap before having to give a speech. What if napping really is the key to a better presentation?
You probably already know that your brain works better when it’s well-rested. Dr. Jerome Siegel, director of the Center for Sleep Research at the University of California, Los Angeles says, “Everybody agrees that if you are sleep deprived, you can’t learn, perform or think very well.” But that doesn’t just mean getting the suggested 7-8 hours of sleep at night. Naps can play an important role in your brain’s ability to function at it’s optimal level.
Boost Your Memory
When you take a brief nap, your brain has time to do important work. Research shows that when you hear or learn something, it enters the hippocampus. But this territory is shaky ground as far as memory goes. As long as information keeps coming, those things you’ve just heard or learned can easily be forgotten or pushed out. However, napping gives the brain time to move those fresh insights to the neocortex where memories are coded for deeper, more permanent storage. If you are trying to memorize parts of a presentation, you might read through your notes a few times and then take a nap. This will give your brain time to properly store those notes, making it easier for you to memorize and later recall them.
Keep It Brief
When trying to get the most out of your nap, aim to sleep between 15-30 minutes. This brief video from AsapSCIENCE called “The Scientific Power of Naps” explains why.
Some companies like Google and Uber allow for employee naps, but the trend is slow to catch on. That means you’ll probably have to get creative to squeeze in a few minutes of shut-eye in the afternoon. Start by convincing your boss that napping benefits the company. Research proves that napping increases productivity, learning, memory, and creativity. Those are all things that will make you a better employee and communicator. Then, see if your employer will allow you to split your lunch break, taking 30 minutes earlier in the day to eat and another 30 minutes between 1-4 p.m. to nap. If sleeping in your office is taboo or impractical, turn your car into a snooze room by reclining your seat and using a travel pillow and a white noise app on your phone. Just don’t forget to set an alarm to wake up after 15-30 minutes.
Reframe Your Thinking
It’s not easy to see napping as productive or to fight the social stigma surrounding napping. Trust me, I’m a type-A firstborn. I have to fight myself to take a nap. I too often and too easily fall into the mindset of “think of all the things I could get done in that 30 minutes!” or “what will others think of me if they know that I take naps?” But I have to remind myself that napping is highly productive and a scientifically proven method for improvement. My brain is doing work in that 30 minutes that it can’t do any other way. And when I rest for 30 minutes, I’ll be able to accomplish more following the nap than I would have without taking one. Maybe Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt had it figured out long ago. The way to give a really great speech is to nurture a really great brain by napping regularly.
Not all of our methods for achieving presentation greatness are as easy as napping. But they are used by some of the best in the world because, like napping, they are results-driven and highly effective. Check out our all-new, online course now.