When I achieved a certain level of television executive-ness, I arrived one morning to find a couch in my office.
“This is odd”, I thought, since we had a great big video room already tricked out for casting.
What’s more, while I had some meetings in my office, anything of length or importance occurred in the Executive Producer’s suite, which had several couches as well as minions who could be sent out for refreshments and sandwiches if any discussion threatened to exceed fifteen minutes.
So, I trotted down the hall to EP and asked, “Why do I have a couch”?
“In case you want to have a nap”, he replied.
“I don’t nap”.
Total extent of the conversation. I assumed it was either too early for sandwiches or the minions weren’t in yet.
Anyway, a couple of days later and late in the afternoon, I was struggling with a scene where the characters were refusing to come up with any reliable dialogue and toying with getting another cup of coffee while calculating it would be about my eleventh of the day. I glanced at the couch.
Stretched out on it.
It was comfy and supportive. All those things you expect from a good couch…and…
I was suddenly swimming back to consciousness, hurrying to sit up and wondering how many hours I’d been out. I was racked with guilt and shame. What if I’d been seen? How improper would my new level of executive-ness seem then? What would have happened if there’d been a crisis on the set –- which might have already happened and been resolved without me since there wasn’t a single flashing light on my phone.
And no lights could mean nobody was even trying to get hold of me for any reason anymore. They’d all stopped trying.
God, how long had I been sleeping???
Turned out it was only 20 minutes, and yet…
I felt refreshed, completely alert, not in need of coffee nor any other stimulant.
I slipped back behind the computer and called up the refusing to be written scene. The characters seemed oddly refreshed too. And happy to see me. They had a ton of ideas. Really good ones. Better ones than I’d been making them try to think of. Gee, I should try this “nap” thing more often.
And so I did. And have to this day.
Not every day to be sure and not always with such immediate and positive results. But that old adage about sleeping on a problem is true –- at least it has been for me.
There’s long been science supporting the benefits of napping. But now there’s one that details exactly how long your nap should be to best serve what you’ll be doing once you wake up.
10-20 Minutes (the so-called “power nap”) boosts alertness and energy while letting you hit the ground running.
30 minutes: Greater energy benefits but you have to schedule an extra 30 minutes of “sleep inertia” or lethargy until you’re fully rebooted.
60 Minutes: Best for remembering facts, faces and names. Some sleep inertia follows but lifts quickly.
90 Minutes: Improved emotional and procedural memory as well as creativity. No sleep inertia stage.
2 hours or more: Buddy, just go home. You’re sleep deprived and no good to anybody. Get a good night’s sleep and tackle things in the morning.