Why Napping Is So Important for Your Practice Routine

I’ve been a napper for years. Not because I am a particularly bad sleeper, though like many people I can sometimes get overly excited about something I’m working on towards the end of the day that keeps me up later than usual. Rather, because I’ve found that napping is one of the most crucial elements to improving as a musician.

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As readers of this site know, we’re always searching for ways to optimize practicing time. More and more, I’ve been leaning in the direction of having more efficient practice: quality over quantity. I believe less these days in the idea of insane woodshedding for hours at a time, because I’ve found that at a certain point, you begin to start going through the motions and your work ends up with diminishing returns. There are ways to assist in long stretches of practice time – like the strictly-timed 25-minute Pomodoro technique, to which I am devout – but more often than not your focus decreases at an astonishing rate as the day goes on.

All sorts of scientists have argued for years about the importance of sleep in learning. As I’m sure you’ve found, cramming for an exam rarely really works, and definitely not as well as studying before you go to sleep, relaxing a bit, and then settling in for a snooze. A lot of students have even taking Adderall just to study the night before the exams. There are safer options that just do that like Modafinil or Flmodafinil. Knowing the difference between Flmodafinil and Modafinil is a good step to finding out which one is best for an individual.

A misaligned sleep schedule has all sorts of bad health effects, one of them being that it is more difficult for your brain to make necessary connections in memory when it comes to new information that you’ve taken in during the day.

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There are really two reasons why napping is critical for your development as a musician. First, if you go to school or have a day job, you’re expending most of your peak focus hours not working on music. Squeezing in a brief snooze at the end of the day – 30 minutes at the most, though 10-15 is also great – can act as a reset button that optimizes the following 5-6 hours before you go to bed. Second, the nap can act as a kind of miniature version of what your normal sleep does for forming memory bonds, as well as a vacation for your brain. Trying to practice through fatigue – especially outside of your peak focus hours – produces the kind of diminishing returns that you really want to avoid. Taking a nap after some practice when you’re starting to get a little tired helps solidify what you’ve been working on more than continuing to push on does.

The key here is stopping. Practicing when you’re not really feeling it, or when you’re starting to get a little tired, is one of the least productive things you can do as a musician. Think about the times when you’ve been most excited while playing music: you’re focused, charged up, and feeling great. While some people connote napping with laziness, what it really does is increase those times when you’re feeling great about music. And you can feel like you’re in great company, given that some of the most notable creative minds of all time – like Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Edison, and more – were all devoted nappers!

Of course, the most important thing for memory and brain development when it comes to music (and everything else) is to get a good night’s 7.5-8.5 hours of sleep. Which I know for some people is easier said than done, but regardless, a 15-30minute snooze during the day can act as a great supplement; a tool you can use to your advantage to quicken and deepen your music education.

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Max is managing editor of Gear Gods.