Back in the mid-2010s, there was a moment when power naps were hailed as the new workplace cure-all—a miracle fix for burnout, idea block, and days with bursting schedules. Progressive corporations installed napping rooms in their offices, some even introducing specially designed nap pods.

But how does the science of napping hold up? And if we do opt for a strategic nap during our day, how can we make the most of our downtime?

The theory behind power naps

Napping enthusiasts claim that a lie-down during the day, even if you’re only ‘resting your eyes,’ can boost your alertness, wakefulness, and feelings of positivity. The theory goes that a five to sixty-minute sleep helps you to carry on with your day in a manner that’s more stable and sustainable than a double espresso.

As this article from John Hopkins explains, the key to a successful power nap is to strike a balance between gaining the mental benefits of sleep, and keeping that sleep short enough to avoid feelings of confusion, grogginess, and a disrupted sleep cycle. It’s recommended to keep nap time to under thirty minutes for this reason.

Do they work?

According to the American Psychological Association, studies on this power napping hypothesis have yielded mostly positive results. A 2009 paper from the Journal of Sleep Research found that short naps helped participants to retain or improve their reactions, as well as their reasoning and recognition skills when compared to a control group.

A 2015 University of Michigan Ph.D. study featured in the Journal of Personality and Individual Differences tested the effects of a sixty-minute midday nap. When compared to a control group who watched TV instead of napping, the nappers showed greater self-control, an increased sense of calm, and a better ability to deal with stressful tasks throughout the afternoon.

Finally, a 2003 paper from Nature, Neuroscience looked at the benefits of napping as compared to a full night’s sleep. The experiment showed that eight hours of good sleep can improve our ability to retain and deploy recently learned information. Interestingly, however, the study suggests that a nap of around sixty minutes can have equally beneficial effects.

How to power nap in five steps