Nowadays, although numerous studies have demonstrated its productivity value, the power of napping is still largely underestimated in our society.
Taking a nap for less than 10 minutes is indeed already incredibly beneficial for both your alertness and cognitive skills. A quick nap is actually like rebooting your system. You relieve fatigue and start fresh.
So the question is, why not enjoy a good nap before your chess game?
Quick naps versus longer naps
But since most of us play chess during the weekends, why not take advantage of the free time and take a longer nap.
Sara Mednick, a sleep scientist from the University of California and author of Take a Nap! Change your Life explains in her book that naps of different durations result in different benefits.
While short naps of 10 to 20 minutes will provide a quick boost of alertness and reinvigorate you, an extended nap will provoke sleep inertia and set off a longer period of grogginess after waking up.
The only solution to enjoy longer naps and wake up bright-eyed is to complete a full sleep cycle, which lasts between 90 to 120 minutes depending on the person. This will give you additional benefits such as creativity enhancement or improved memory processing; even though another interesting piece of research has shown that even a 6-minute nap expand free recall memory.
Napping for chess
As you’ve understood, either a quick nap of maximum 20 minutes or a full sleep cycle are good solutions to restore your brain to optimal levels and benefit from accrued vigilance, energy boost, as well as improved memory processing.
From a practical point of view, a quick nap is recommended before a chess game. To optimize its effects, try to schedule your nap ideally between 7 to 9 hours after waking up and don’t forget to review your opening preparation right before closing your eyes.
Experiment your napping options
Even if you follow the above suggestions, it might not work for you as an individual. So try to schedule different options of napping over the next weeks, with different times (5 mins, 10 mins, 15 mins or 20 mins) and make sure to do it under conditions that suit the moment of the game.
However, don’t nap too close to your usual bedtime. It is preferable to respect a 5-hour window in order to avoid disturbing your night sleep.
Last but not least, the good news is you don’t need to nap every day. Naps during the weekends should already be helpful.