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Napping Your Way to Great Sales Days: A How-To

Napping during the workday can net dreamy results, if you know when and for how long to snooze.
Reviewed by
Jeff Kahn, M.S., Rise Science Co-Founder
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Woman napping during the workday to be more productive

If there’s one upside to working from home, it’s the proximity to your bed. Why, you might ask?

It may seem counterintuitive, but taking a break from work to catch a few extra midday zzz’s can be a boon to productivity and job performance. And now that so many of us are working just steps away from our own personal nap chambers, planning your workday around a brief snooze is easier to do than ever. 

Why Napping Makes You a Better Seller

While the research shows that anyone can benefit from napping, sales people are especially likely to reap reward.

High sleep debt (the amount of sleep we owe ourselves relative to our personal sleep need over the last two weeks) hits the prefrontal cortex particularly hard, which is the part of the brain that handles the executive functioning skills crucial to sales performance. Everything from retaining prospect names and deal details to bouncing back from rejection (to organizing your to-do list, to anticipating client questions, etc.) are at risk when you’re short on sleep. 

Luckily, napping is a viable way to shrink your sleep debt and bring these essential cognitive processes back online. Our research has shown that when salespeople become better sleepers, they grow monthly revenue by 14% on average, and increase their outbound calls by 50%. We also know that when sellers catch up on sleep, they’re more empathetic, more positive, and better leaders.

Even if your sleep debt is low, napping is still worthwhile. A short “appetitive nap” (a nap taken for “enjoyment” or performance rather than to make up sleep debt) is a perfect, natural way to boost your mood and cognitive capabilities midday.

More specifically, here’s what nappers can look forward to: 

Better Performance

  • Naps can enhance your ability to learn. For certain tasks--like familiarizing yourself with a new sales acceleration platform, for instance--a nap could be just as effective as a full night of sleep for solidifying what you learned.
  • If your nap is long enough to plunge you into REM sleep, it can improve creative problem solving abilities by 40%--giving you the “aha!” moment you need to finally nail a challenging objection.
  • Naps have been proven to bolster logical reasoning, meaning you’ll be better equipped to think through potential customer pain points and come up with solutions ahead of time.  
  • Napping may even have a positive effect on your finances, as studies show that naps promote foresight and money-saving habits
  • Naps measurably raise alertness in a variety of settings. NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration, for instance, have put years of research into the benefits of naps for working pilots, concluding that naps can increase alertness by a whopping 54%--a game-changer for long-haul flights.  

Better Memory

The brain of an extremely tired person has a tendency to “turn off” its memory neurons, but a quick nap can reverse the shut-down. Naps assist with three distinct types of memory:

  • Our declarative memory, which governs concrete information that you consciously retrieve--clients’ names, meeting dates and times, salient presentation details, etc. Even a nap as short as 6 minutes has been shown to improve a person’s recall.
  • Our working memory, which is responsible for our ability to multitask—it is what allows you to keep something “in mind” while simultaneously processing new information. This is why you can respond to a prospect’s question without forgetting the rest of your spiel, for example. 
  • And lastly, our procedural memory, which stores the motor skills you hone through practice until they can be performed unconsciously (think forwarding an email to a colleague or logging into your LinkedIn). 

Better Mood

How to Nap for Sales Success

All that said, there is a right way (and a wrong way!) to nap. While shorter, intentional naps can benefit everything from job performance to general mood, you’ll want to make sure to evade the threat of sleep inertia—that fuzzy-headed state that can make you feel and perform worse after a nap, not better. 

Here are our tips on how to nap like a champ: 

When to Nap

You’re probably familiar with the feeling of a post-lunch slump, but don’t blame your burrito bowl. It’s not just your lunch that prompts this daily “energy trough.” This slump is referred to as your postprandial dip, and is actually due to your natural circadian rhythm. Studies suggest that this is an ideal time for a nap--you’ll fall asleep easier and can stay asleep longer during this window. It’s also far enough away from bedtime that you won’t be putting your night’s sleep on the line--nap too late in the day and you won’t have the build-up of sleep pressure necessary to fall asleep at night. 

→ For most of us, our midday dip falls in the early afternoon. Check the Energy Schedule tab in the RISE app to know what time is best for you. 

→ You can also record your naps in RISE. Toggle to the Sleep tab and scroll to Naps Today to add how long you napped. This time will get subtracted from your debt. 

RISE app screenshot showing you when to nap
To check today's dip, pull up your energy schedule by hitting the Energy tab. Your dip is highlighted in purple.

Where to Nap

The optimal nap environment is the same as the optimal nighttime sleep environment. You should seek out a dark, cool space, ideally between 65 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit, with minimal noise and distractions. Consider investing in a simple sleep mask and ear plugs.

Simply put: the closer you can get to feeling like you’re in a cave, the better.

How Long to Nap

  • If what you’re after is a deeper swell of creativity, or a sustained lift in those higher-order cognitive functions, like planning and reasoning, you might benefit from closer to 40 minutes … or longer. At around an hour, you’re liable to enter REM sleep, which can improve associative thinking and insight--a great option if you’re dragging and need to do something more dynamic and focus-intensive, like putting together a new pitch email or updating a proposal.  

But keep in mind that there’s a trade-off: sleep inertia is more likely after a longer nap. Additionally, you shouldn’t fly too close to the proverbial sun: if you exceed a full sleep cycle (typically 90 minutes), you might find yourself unable to fall asleep at bedtime … leading to sleep deprivation the next day. 

Other Naps Tips:

Drink a cup of coffee before hitting the sack.

While coffee and napping might seem mutually exclusive, ingesting caffeine and immediately napping has been proven to further curb feelings of sleepiness post-nap

Since the effects of caffeine have a delayed onset, typically peaking within 15-20 minutes of ingestion, your latte won’t keep you from falling asleep--instead it will kick in at just the right moment to prevent sleep inertia upon waking. 

But sipper beware--caffeine can linger in your system for up to 10 hours, so don’t partake too late in the day.

Don’t put all your eggs in the nap basket. 

If you’re severely sleep-deprived, a nap isn’t going to pull you back from that brink, and its benefits will probably be muted. Pursuing a consistent earlier bedtime remains the fastest and safest way to pay off the bulk of your sleep debt. Think of naps as a helpful supplement to your routine, not as a magical cure-all, and certainly not as a nightly-sleep substitute.

Like anything else, napping takes practice.

It’s important to note that everyone’s ideal nap will look different. It might take some trial and error to nail your nap groove. Try scaling your naps up by 15-minute increments until you find your “sweet spot.” Listen to your body, and keep track of which kinds of naps leave you feeling good, not groggy. Once you’ve found your nap niche, stick with it! The science suggests that regular naps have magnified benefits over sporadic ones.

RISE app screenshot showing you how to add naps
Log your nap time in RISE by going to the Sleep tab and finding where it says "Naps today." This way, RISE can add it to last night's sleep and alter your sleep debt accordingly.


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Rise is the only app that unlocks the real-world benefits of better sleep.

Instead of just promising a better night, we use 100 years of sleep science to help you pay down sleep debt and take advantage of your circadian rhythm to be your best.

Over the past decade, we've helped professional athletes, startups, and Fortune 500s improve their sleep to measurably win more in the real-world scenarios that matter most.

Rise Science is backed by True Ventures, Freestyle Capital, and High Alpha; investors behind category winners Fitbit, Peloton, and Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

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