Everyone loves a good nap, but how long should the typical nap be? According to former Navy Seal Jocko Willink, a mere 8-minute nap is the perfect amount for a mid-day rest. Willink’s napping method has gone viral on TikTok.
According to Willink, the key to his nap is to “elevate your feet above your heart and then set your alarm for eight minutes.” He says that 10 minutes is the longest he likes to nap, and a 12-minute nap would leave him feeling a little bit groggy when he wakes. He describes feeling like “Superman” after his 8-minute nap and says he feels like he just slept for eight hours.
According to certified sleep science coach and CEO at Nolah Mattress Stephen Light, 10-20 minutes is the perfect amount of time for a quick power nap. On the legitimacy of the 8-minute nap, he says “sleeping with your legs elevated can help improve sleep onset and quality as it allows blood to flow more easily throughout the body. This is the sleep science behind the 8-minute Navy Seal nap, but that’s not the only thing that makes this nap potentially effective.”
Light goes on to explain that an individual’s health and fitness are also factors contributing to the effectiveness of the quick nap. “When we enter sleep, our bodies are actually working to address any imbalances within our systems in relation to diet and overall fitness. The more time our bodies spend in recovery, the less rest we’re actually getting when we nap. So while this position itself might help you perfect a power nap, your overall fitness and health will also be a factor.”
Sam Nabil, CEO and lead therapist at Naya Clinics agrees with Light’s take on the nap. He largely credits leg elevation to the success of the nap. He says, “thanks to foot elevation simultaneously performed with a relaxed back, your blood flows smoother within the body which triggers sleep faster than usual. This body position redistributes the blood on your feet to other parts of the body, promoting better relaxation and physical comfort.”
Although Willink shared his hack for the first time on The Peter Attia Drive podcast in 2019, this hack only started trending recently when lifestyle coach Nick Vitello shared the nap concept on his TikTok. His video about the nap gained over 33 million views and more than 16 thousand comments. While Vitello claims that the trick works, many in the comments were not as convinced.
“I can’t get to sleep in 8 minutes,” one commenter said.
“Instructions not clear, I woke up 3 days later,” another commenter joked.
TikToker Vanessa Tomasik claims to take one of these naps every day and plans to do so for the rest of her life. She admits that it may just be the placebo effect, but she doesn’t care. As far as Tomasik is concerned, the nap works for her.
@vanessatomasikand i will die on this hill♬ MEAN! – Madeline The Person
With so much discourse surrounding this viral nap, I decided to try it for myself and see if it really works. For reference, I am a 20-year-old college student, so I am very familiar with squeezing in a short nap in between classes. I’m hoping that this nap will be a game-changer for me.
In order to make sure I fully gave this hack a chance, I decided to try it 5 times and change the variables each time. I tried the hack with different levels of leg elevation as well as trying it with and without a pillow since Jocko didn’t specify whether or not he uses one.
Day 1: Legs elevated at 20 inches
On day 1, I was excited to try this hack. After sitting in meetings and working all day, I was eager to have a break and hopefully emerge fully recharged and ready to take on the rest of the day. On day 1, I elevated my legs on a bench 20 inches high and did not use a pillow. I set the timer for 10 minutes to give myself two minutes to fall asleep. One of the first things I noticed was that I didn’t feel comfortable. My legs were elevated a little too high to be comfortable, and my lower back was hurting. Although my head was resting on the rug below me, my head just laying on the floor was not the ideal level of comfort.
Maybe the point of sleeping in this position was to make sure the sleeper isn’t very comfortable so they easily get up when the timer goes off. Regardless, I was unable to fall asleep within the 10-minute time frame.
Day 2: Legs elevated at 16 inches
I lowered my leg elevation on day 2 in hopes of being more comfortable. I elevated my legs on a 16-inch couch, and I immediately felt a difference. Although the height was only decreased by four inches, there was a drastic change. While my head still wasn’t completely comfortable just resting on the rug below me, I felt more relaxed and I could settle down a bit.
I was unable to fall asleep within the allotted 10 minutes, but I noticed that I felt more relaxed after the timer went off. Even though I didn’t fall asleep, those 10 minutes of just laying down and closing my eyes were relaxing, and it was nice to have a small period of pure rest during the day.
Day 3: Legs elevated at 14 inches.
On day 3, I lowered the leg elevation by 2 inches. I didn’t notice much of a change within my comfort level, and I had the same results as day 2. I did not fall asleep but did feel more relaxed when I got up.
Day 4: Legs elevated at 16 inches with a pillow under the head
I went back to 16 inches on day 4, but this time I used a pillow. The pillow definitely made the experience more comfortable, but it didn’t make me fall asleep. The results were the same as before.
Day 5: Legs elevated at 14 inches with a pillow under the head
On the final day, I went back to 14 inches and also used a pillow. Just like on day 4, the pillow added comfort but ultimately did not change the results of the experiment.
While I never actually napped, I still think I felt some benefits of this practice. While I wouldn’t describe myself as feeling like “Superman” afterward, I did feel more relaxed. I found that the simple act of allowing myself 10 minutes of uninterrupted rest was really nice during the middle of a busy work day. While I would have loved to actually fall asleep, I think I still reaped some good results.
Who I Would Recommend This Nap For
- People who know they are able to fall asleep very quickly
- People with busy or hectic schedules that are able to set aside 10 minutes to rest
- People who work from home and have access to quiet areas to try this nap