NASA naps last for around 23 minutes and have the potential to save sleep-deprived dads on autopilot.

For starters, men can finally and legitimately ditch the Nanny nap tagline for a license to have a short siesta.

Second, there’s scientific evidence strongly suggesting that a short sleeping siesta is great for our overall health and well-being.

This is as long as the siesta avoids sleep inertia.

Meaning: the longer the nap, the greater the lag.

Beating this inertia has been an area of interest for NASA.

Even though the astro-aeronautical giant says there’s no replacement for ‘8-hours of shut-eye’ for astronauts, the NASA power nap has important benefits.


An early study published by the organisation in 2005 showed that power naps increased ‘working memory performance, but hindered vigilance and basic alertness.’

Working memory, they said, is when we “focus attention on one task while holding other tasks in memory.’

This is ‘a fundamental ability critical to performing complex work — like piloting a spaceship. A poor working memory could result in errors.”

In sum, NASA said, naps have some benefits if deployed properly.

The Sleep Foundation supports these claims.

‘For a power nap to be effective, it needs to be timed so that a person wakes up when they are in the early and lighter stages of sleep,’ they asserted.

‘Napping for less than 20 minutes improves alertness and functioning right away with little or no grogginess after waking up.’

Additionally, if a NASA nap is taken before 3 p.m. – ‘early to mid-afternoon’ – there’s little chance of it affecting the 8-hour sleep our bodies look for at night time.

This works, the Sleep Foundation said, because the human body has two peak sleep times in a 24-hour cycle.

The first is at night. The second is midday, called the ‘lunch dip’.

Quality Over Quantity

NASA naps – naps in general – wrote Asia Grace for the NY Post last week, could be the ‘winning formula for sleep-deprived mums and dads.’

Citing Sanae Oriyama’s in-depth Japanese study, the NY Post said,

‘Scheduling 90- and 30-minute sleep sessions was more beneficial than catching Zs for a straight 120 minutes.’

Oriyama’s conclusions seem to concur with NASA’s.

  1. The longer the nap, the bigger the lag.
  2. Even if timed properly, there are still some drawbacks.
  3. The benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

The purpose of her study was to help night shift workers, such as nurses and emergency personnel.

Oriyama’s findings, just like NASA’s, are transferable – so we can safely add mums and dads to this list, especially those new to parenting.

If you’re still not convinced, check out this BBC piece from June.

Reporting on a more self-centred study from the University College of London, the BBC writes, ‘finding time for a little snooze is good for our brain.’

Like NASA, SF, and Oriyama, UCL stated that the most potent nap is no more than 30 minutes.

Napping is great for babies. Timed well, it’s good for mums and dads too, implied researchers.

Moderation and Rejuvenation

A short sleeping siesta, alongside a good sleep, is as potent as diet and exercise when it comes to looking after our overall health, they added.

The tentative conclusion was to balance all four.

This, noted The Guardian in 2021, is the gold standard when it comes to good physical and mental health.

Although napping has been stigmatised as laziness, the brief break has a powerful restorative kick, The Guardian wrote.

Ideally, when deploying NASA’s nap reboot, we should aim for a 20–25-minute downtime.

Preferably before 3 p.m.

Unfortunately, in all the data and information, I didn’t see answers to how realistic this all is.

The West’s coat-over-the-chair working culture is unlikely to allow many workers this kind of downtime.

From mum-and-dad small businesses to retailers, construction, transport, and some in the hospitality industry, if “you’re not moving forwards, you’re going backwards.”

The NASA nap reboot is great for bureaucrats, the medical profession, academics, the merchant navy, and those who work from home.

For most, it’s a nice idea, and that’s all it will ever be.

This said, there’s always the weekend!

Additionally, the best-before 3 p.m. prescription is not set in stone.

For the 8-5er, it’s a good excuse to get some short shut-eye in after work.

Thus, NASA naps still have the potential to help sleep-deprived mums and dads running on autopilot.

As my Daily Dad colleague Kurt Mahlburg wrote a few weeks back,

‘work with the awake window; we’re all better people when we get enough sleep.’


Photo by William Fortunato.

Published On: October 4th, 20230 CommentsTags: , , , , , , , ,

About the Author: Rod Lampard

Rod, his wife Jonda, and their five kids are homeschooling veterans. Rod spent 12 years in management at Koorong, has a Bachelor’s Degree in Ministry & Theology, and is a writer for the theological, politically edgy news site Caldron Pool. Rod also writes for the Spectator. Find his personal blog here.

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