The Power Nap – the secret weapon of successful policians

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Do you know what the Great Napoleon, Thomas Edison, JFK and Churchill had in common?

With the SA presidential elections looming, I thought it wise to outline one of the habits of the most successful political leaders of our time. The Power Nap. Perhaps our leaders would increase their productivity and creativity if they were forced to take a daily nap?

WARNING: The sleep schedule outlined below is not a good long-term sleep strategy. It is to be used for short periods in situations that demand limited sleep plus a large output. Sleeping less than 7.5 hours a night for an extended period of time will cause physical and mental illness. For a slightly healthier napping strategy check out our post of The best kind of nap.

Creatives and visionaries are renowned for poor sleep schedules. It appears that many 'come into their own' at night and when inspiration hits there is no reining it in. Leonardo Da Vinci and Thomas Edison were both reportedly catnappers who got by on five or less hours of sleep per night. Inventors and creatives may have the freedom to enjoy these periods of manic productivity by following them up with extended periods of rest. And artistic types may be accepted for their outrageous sleep and work habits.

However, less well exposed (and accepted) are the sleep habits of highly successful politicians. Napoleon, John F Kennedy and Churchill were all confirmed day-time nappers who could fall asleep quickly and remain in a deep sleep despite cannon balls firing or urgent calls from the White House. (For more see Famous Nappers) A common strategy appears to be breaking their day (and night) into manageable chunks in which to complete their work interspersed with power naps lasting anything from 15 minutes to 90 minutes.

These politicians could wake up at 5am and work til 1pm; sleep til 2pm and work on until midnight. Winston Churchill famously said: “you will be able to accomplish more. You get two days in one—well, at least one and a half.”

I wonder what our politicians sleep-wake cycles are looking like at present? I have seen many images of politicians falling asleep during meetings and indabas... perhaps they are power napping rather than falling asleep on the job? Mamphelele Ramphele, Jacob Zuma, Helen Zille... how are you sleeping lately?

sleepy politicians copy

Please note: To be exceptionally PC I have used an image totally neutral to our political context. However, for a laugh, Google sleepy politicians and you will be amazed to see how many world leaders have been caught in the act of the great Power Nap.

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