Sleeping Giants: 5 Go-Getters Who Found Time to Nap

Call it a power nap. Call it a break. Whatever you call it, don't assume that somebody who sneaks in a few winks in the middle of the day can't also take care of business ...

1. Thomas Edison: Highly Inventive Napping

Prolific inventor Thomas Edison didn't like to go to bed at night. In fact, he didn't like to take his clothes off or change into pajamas because he thought it somehow interfered with his creativity.

The solution? The "Wizard of Menlo Park" chose instead to sleep a few hours at night - often no more than three - then catch naps in the lab around the clock, whenever he felt tired. Colleagues referred it to as his "genius for sleep."

After Edison built his laboratory and home together in Menlo Park, New Jersey, in 1876, he could indulge in his odd sleep habits with little trouble - except with his wife, Mary, who found his eccentric hours bothersome. But he kept on doing it anyway.

Edison loved to stretch out atop a lab table when catching a quickie, but he was known to make do on a stool if nothing more comfortable was handy.

2. Warren G. Harding: Late to Bed and Early to Rise

Although he seldom went to bed before midnight and frequently stayed up until 2 a.m., President Harding was not a very late riser. In fact, he always got up at 8.

His White House schedule, however, left him increasingly fatigued, perhaps signifying sleep deprivation, but also a sign of advancing heart disease that would kill him in office in 1923. Friends told Harding that he would be more rested if he stayed in bed in the morning but the president refused, saying that to do so would be "too much like a woman."

Irwin "Ike" Hood, chief usher of the White House, recalled that instead, the sleep-deprived president would steal the occasional presidential power nap in the Oval Office.

3. Salvador Dalí: Surreal Sleep

Salvador Dalí, the Spanish Surrealist painter, arrived at the startling images of his most productive period - between 1929 and 1937 - using what he called the "paranoiac-critical method." Apparently, this involved fishing "delirious associations and interpretations" out of his unconscious. It's less than clear how he accomplished this, but he used no intoxicants. "I don't do drugs," he once said. "I am drugs."

Dalí wasn't above manipulating his consciousness in other ways, though. He reportedly took odd little catnaps that brought him right to the edge of deep sleep, but then jerked himself out of it. His method was simple: Seated in an armchair, Dalí held a metal spoon in one hand. Then, next to his chair, he'd place a metal pan. He'd quickly nod off, and as soon as he was relaxed enough to let go of the spoon, it would fall against the pan. The sudden clang waking him up, Dalí was immediately reacquainted with his subconscious, and went back to work.

4. Samuel Goldwyn: Cinematic Snoozer

One of Hollywood's most prominent film producers for over 30 years, Sam Goldwyn believed in hard work. Indeed, he demanded it from his employees. He also believed in taking care of himself. Every day after lunch, Sam would take a siesta, disappearing into a room adjacent to his office, changing into pajamas, and sleeping for an hour.

According to biographer Arthur Marx, Goldwyn - the man behind such classics as Wuthering Heights and The Best Years of Our Lives - belived a 60-minute afternoon nap was the secret to good health.

One day he recommended the practice to two writers working on a script for a Danny Kaye picture. "You ought to try it, too" he said. Then, realizing that he didn't want the scribes sleeping on company time, he added, "In your cases, eat a half hour, sleep a half hour."

5. Ronald Reagan: To Nap or Not to Nap?

Ronald Reagan supposedly took a nap every day. In fact, it was frequently mentioned in newspaper columns and widely accepted as fact.

But First Lady Nancy Reagan vehemently denied the accusations. What he did, Nancy said, was take a short break in the afternoon, away from staff, visitors, and the press. It was, after all, on doctor's orders after Reagan was wounded in a 1981 assassination attempt. Maureen Reagan, the president's daughter, also insisted that Reagan hated to take naps.

So maybe the Gipper didn't nap in private, but as a president who was nearly 70 when he took office, he was definitely observed from time to time nodding off in public. Reagan even joked about falling asleep in cabinet meetings and once dropped off in the middle of a speech by Pope John Paul II.

From mental_floss' book Forbidden Knowledge: A Wickedly Smart Guide to History's Naughtiest Bits, published in Neatorama with permission.

Be sure to visit mental_floss' extremely entertaining website and blog!

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I think Buckminster Fuller should be an honorable mention of sorts. He invented a form of napping, as he called it, "Dymaxion Sleep." It consisted of him taking short napping intervals. No solid period of sleep longer than 45 minutes, if I'm accurate.
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I do power naps : 5 to 10 minutes max napping. Just loose conciousness and wake up fresh for a good afternoon work!
I wake up at 2:30am too... and read Neatorama ;)
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