22 Famous Nappers: How Napping was these People’s Key to Success

An afternoon nap can be a great way to recharge your batteries and get ready for the rest of the day. But did you know that many famous people have been known to take a nap? - Here, we'll explore famous nappers from the BC to the present day.

1. Aristotle (384 BC-322 BC)

People has napped since the dawn of time. In fact, a midday siesta is a part of our DNA. That being said, Aristotle is probably the first self-professed napper in history.

Aristotle is one of the most influential philosophers in history. He was also a believer in hypnogogic napping – that is, napping to induce inspiration. Aristotle is attributed with the following quote about the power of napping:

“For often, when one is asleep, there is something in consciousness which declares that what then presents itself is but a dream.”

2. Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519)

Italian renaissance artist Leonardo Da Vinci is one of the greatest minds in history. He was an inventor and painter whose works continue to be studied today, not least the illustrious Mona Lisa.

Leonardo Da Vinci practiced a sleep schedule which has arguably never been surpassed in roughness: He would sleep 2 hours each night and make up for lost sleep with a 15-minute power nap every 4 hours.

This superhuman regime is hardly recommended for anyone – but perhaps it’s an interesting study in how much one can compensate for lost nighttime sleep through daytime naps.

3. Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821)

Napoleon Bonaparte, one of the greatest military leaders of all time. He is also one of the most famous nappers.

Napoleon had a notoriously harsh schedule, only sleeping about four hours a night. He compensated by frequent naps which would inspire his genius strategic movements.

 In fact, he was known to take a quick cat nap directly on the battlefield, resting on a bear skin. He believed that short rest helped him gain clarity and strength for the fight to come.

4. Thomas Edison (1847-1931)

Thomas Edison is another famous scientist with a nap habit. It would be an overstatement to go so far as to say that Edison believed in the power of naps, though; they were more of an inconvenient necessity for him, since he sternly believed that he only needed four to five hours of sleep each night.

Even with his constant lack of sleep, Edison managed to invent so ferociously that during his lifetime he held over 1093 US patents. This puts him right on the list of famous nappers.

5. Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959)

Famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright had a unique sleep pattern which fueled his outstanding creative output. He would wake up at 4 in the morning, head full of ideas, and would then work for three or four hours where after he would take a nap. In the afternoon he would have another nap, usually on a hard surface to prevent him from oversleeping.

6. Thomas Mann (1875-1955)

Thomas Mann was a German writer and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. He is one of the most renowned German writers in history and has left a huge cultural legacy.

It’s said that Mann would take a nap every afternoon after lunch which helped him gain more energy for his long days. This was not at all unusual at his time, at least among the aristocracy.

7. Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964)

General Douglas MacArthur is one of the most well-known military leaders in history. He was a key figure during World War II and continued to have a strong presence even after.

Not always able to get a full night’s sleep during campaigns, MacArthur took a nap every afternoon, which helped him gain more energy for his long days. His napping schedule was so fixed that his men would have to organize their days around it.

8. Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

Winston Churchill was one of the greatest leaders in history, serving as Britain’s Prime Minister during World War II.

Churchill believed that taking a short nap (around 30 minutes) after lunch gave him enough energy to get through his day and focus on work.

Of all the famous nappers here, Churchill was perhaps the most staunch. Even during the Blitz, Winston Churchill would stick to his daily nap!

9. Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Albert Einstein is one of the most well-known scientists in history. He developed his General Theory of Relativity and was awarded a Nobel Prize for Physics due to this work.

Einstein was a copious sleeper, up to 10 hours each night, and it’s said that he would also take short cat naps in his armchair with a spoon in hand. This would drop to the floor and make a noise when he fell asleep, preventing him from oversleeping.

Naps (and plenty of nighttime sleep) helped Einstein come up with new ideas and keep focused throughout the day.

10. Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962)

Eleanor Roosevelt is one of the most well-known First Ladies in US history. She was a big supporter for civil rights and women’s rights, helping many people during her life. She would usually nap right before a speaking engagement in order to gain more energy and clear her mind.

11. J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973)

British author J.R.R Tolkien is one of the most successful and well-known authors in history. His fantasy book series, The Lord of the Rings, and it’s prologue, the Hobbit, has dedicated fans all over the world.

Like many intellectuals of his era, Tolkien would return to his home on midday, where he would have lunch and take a nap. Other English gentlemen of his era who would follow a similar schedule are C.S. Lewis and Nevill Coghill.

12. Salvador Dali (1904-1989)

Spanish artist Salvador Dali was a uniquely talented painter and sculptor renowned for his psychedelic expression and eccentric appearance.

Salvador Dali’s micro nap habit was as eccentric as anything he did: He would sit on a chair, hold a bundle of keys in his one hand, and have a silver plate placed directly beside the chair. When he fell asleep the object dropped, which in turn would produce a loud crash to wake him up.

Salvador Dali held these micro naps to have a profound effect on his creativity.

13. John F. Kennedy (1917-1963)

John F Kennedy is one of the most well-known Presidents in history. He was President when America entered The Cold War and helped with important civil rights reforms during his presidency at the white house.

JFK’s workdays were over 12 hours long, but it’s said that he would take a two-hour long siesta every afternoon which allowed him to gain more energy for work in the evening. He apparently picked up his nap habit from his predecessor, Dwight Eisenhower.

14. Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013)

Margaret Thatcher is a politician who served as the first female British Prime Minister.

That the “Iron lady” seemed tireless in her work is perhaps partly because of her insane sleep habits: She would get by on only 4 hours each day but would make up by taking an hour long nap in the middle of the afternoon, often in the official limo.

15. George H. W. Bush (1924-2018)

Former President George H W Bush would take two-hour afternoon naps at the White House when he was president. His staff said they could set their watch by him if he wasn’t on a flight. As you can see from the present list, Bush Snr. was far from the only US president to make napping part of their day.

16. Bill Clinton (b. 1946)

Bill Clinton was the 42nd president in history, under whom America saw the longest period of peacetime economic expansion in history. Bill Clinton would take naps after lunch every day, which helped him stay focused throughout the rest of his busy schedule.

Clinton has also been caught snoozing at public events several times, including at Biden’s inauguration. At one point he shared his secret on how to be able to doze off anywhere:

“I imagine a big hole in the back of my head, and I focus on that.”

17. Stephen King (b. 1947)

Stephen King is one of the most well-known American writers and practically the father of modern horror. His books have sold over 350 million copies worldwide, and despite his mature age, King is still writing.

King has spoken publicly about his napping habit on several occasions. His daily routine basically consists of four hours of writing followed by an hour-long nap after lunch.

King says his nap is indispensable if he hopes to get anything done after lunch.

18. William Gibson (b. 1948)

William Gibson is one of the most well-known science fiction writers of today. He has written several success novels, including Neuromancer and Pattern Recognition. It’s said that Gibson would take two naps a day (one after lunch) during his writing, helping him gain more energy for his long days!

“Naps are essential to my process.” he has been quoted for saying.

19. Haruki Murakami (b. 1949)

Japanese writer Haruki Murakami is one of the world’s most well-known authors. He has written many novels which often combine surrealism, magical realism, and pop culture references.

Murakami is reported that he takes naps up to four naps every day (usually he will fall asleep after lunch). This helps him gain more energy for his long days of writing. In an interview, Murakami has said:

“I really nap a lot. Usually, I get sleepy right after lunch, plop down on the sofa, and doze off. Thirty minutes later I come wide awake. As soon as I wake up, my body isn’t sluggish, and my mind is totally clear.”

20. Mark Cuban (b. 1958)

When it comes to business success, Mark Cuban has made a name for himself as an entrepreneur and billionaire investor with several businesses under his belt. He’s one of the few billionaires who believes in getting enough sleep (at least seven hours) and taking a ‘dad-nap’ during the day when needed.

21. Jonathan Franzen (b. 1959)

Jonathan Franzen is one of the most well-known writers today! He has written several books, including The Corrections and Freedom. Franzen picked up napping after quitting smoking. He would instead begin taking intense short naps and would “come surging back up to the surface and go straight to the desk and write.” Like other famous nappers, he reported extraordinary productivity during this time.

22. Kanye West (b. 1977)

Rapper Kanye West has been photographed on several occasions napping alongside his son North. He has also professed his love of napping in a few Twitter Tweets, including one saying, “Naps are awesome.” Little is known about the endurance or strategy behind Kanye’s napping schedule, though.

Follow in the footsteps of the famous nappers!

How long should a nap be? The perfect power nap length is between 20 and 30 minutes. Here you get the optimal cognitive benefits of napping, with none of the sleep-hangover.

Many people take short 20-minute power naps to boost their energy and productivity. You can nap in your car, at work or even on the subway. It’s easy to start a nap habit once you find out how beneficial it is for both mind and body. Read more about the benefits of napping here.