I spend time looking for inspiration for the art of my photography away from our industry. While I am often inspired by wonderful photographic images and ideas from other photographers I don’t want my thinking to become completely ‘inbred’. Here’s an artist I follow who has inspired me in different ways on a regular basis. Robert Genn’s Twice-Weekly Letter. You can sign up here. In this post I am sharing here Robert gives credence to the afternoon nap as a tool of creativity. I like it!

Take a nap

September 24, 2013

Dear Bob,

I’ve always been keen on “don’t rest–run.” Often a quick jog after lunch seemed to perk me up and send me back to the studio with a new sense of adventure. Now I’m not so sure. Strictly between you and me, I’m now taking naps.

This follows recent research into the value of sleep, especially short sleep. Sara C. Mednick is a sleep researcher at the University of California, Riverside. Her studies look at the relationship between napping and performance. Mednick thinks humans have a biological need for an afternoon nap. She’s the author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life.

It’s not just the need, it’s the benefits. In sleep our minds become highly active. In sleep we apparently improve our creative ability by uncovering novel connections among seemingly unrelated ideas. Sleep also enhances performance, learning and memory. According to Mednick, after sleep, people are 33 percent more likely to be creative.

Google, Cisco Systems and Proctor & Gamble have now installed Arshad Chowdhury’s “EnergyPods.” These are smart looking recliners with egglike hoods that block noise and light, allowing employees to take naps at work. These companies find that a little sleep helps “reset” the brain to look at things from a different perspective.

According to Mednick, the best time to nap is after lunch. This is the time when most humans and animals experience what is called “the post-prandial dip.” It’s a low-ebb for cogno-processing and physiological responses–when a lot of us actually do feel sleepy. Naps, Mednick found, improve cognitive performance better than caffeine.

I’d be interested if any of our readers have had experience with this. In my case Dorothy the Airedale and I go into the house and nap in a spare room. I read a bit first, preferably something unrelated to art, then I just turn over and snooze. Dorothy doesn’t need to read first. Actual nap time is from 20 minutes to an hour. If the house phone rings, the spell is broken for both of us.

Returning to the studio, I quite often see right away what’s wrong with what I’m doing. Other times I’m driven to start something new. As an early morning riser I’m often petered out after lunch, but I can report that an afternoon nap gives Dorothy and me two days for the price of one.

Best regards,


PS: “There are biological dips in our rhythm and in our alertness that seem to go along with the natural state from way back when.” (Sara C. Mednick)

Esoterica: At least two methods awaken the potential of a nap. One is to pose a problem before you drift off. Notes unanswered on a pad of paper do the trick. Fresh in the top of the mind, the underground mind works on the notes as you snooze. The second is to go to sleep with nothing much on your mind at all (the purpose of neutral reading beforehand) and let the old subconscious mix and match where it will. “‘Scuse me, I gotta’ go.”