NASA: Napping Just 26 Minutes Can Improve Job Performance by a Third

Jessica Stillman
3 min readNov 2, 2021


With so many more of us working from home these days, naps have suddenly become a lot more feasible for a lot more people. Research shows there are plenty of reasons to take advantage of your newfound proximity to your bed.

Naps boost memory, improve performance, make your brain work better, and reduce stress. The truth is, a snoozing employee is more likely to be a savvy productivity hacker than a slacker.

But just because the research is conclusive that naps boost performance, it doesn’t mean science has told us everything we need to know about them. Another question remains: Exactly what length of nap is best? Thankfully, science has an answer to this question, too.

A little napping goes a long, long way

It comes from the very precise folks at NASA, who studied naps to make sure sleepy pilots weren’t putting themselves or passengers at risk. Insider shared the bottom-line takeaway:

The space agency found that pilots who slept in the cockpit for 26 minutes showed alertness improvements of up to 54 percent and job-performance improvements by 34 percent, compared to pilots who didn’t nap

When it comes to naps, short is generally better. Unless you have 90 minutes or more to devote to making up for last night’s lost shuteye, avoid snoozing for more than a half hour asleep or your body will enter the deeper phases of sleep, making it harder to wake up and leaving you groggier once you do.

In fact, even 26 minutes might be too long if you need to spring straight into action with a clear mind upon waking. NASA’s ultimate recommendation is power naps between 10 and 20 minutes long. “You’ll get the most benefit from a sleep cycle without any of the grogginess associated with longer sleeping periods,” explains Insider.

Even just closing your eyes for a bit helps

And don’t stress if you’re one of those people who struggle to fall asleep the instant their head hits the pillow. As Elemental has reported, research shows that…



Jessica Stillman

Top columnist/ Editor/ Ghostwriter. Book lover. Travel fiend. Nap enthusiast.