Can You Hack Sleep With The Navy SEALs Nap?

6 Min Read | By Ellen Conning

Last Modified 1 August 2023   First Added 21 June 2023

This article was written and reviewed in line with our editorial policy.

It’s a busy day, and you’re exhausted. With so much left to do, you’re drained and need to re-invigorate yourself. The thought of a nap crosses your mind, but you’re worried you’ll either sleep through the rest of the day or wake up feeling cranky and stiff. What options do you have? With phone in hand, you look online and stumble onto something: the Navy SEALs nap.

Developed with the US Naval Institute and on the ground by Colonel Jill Morgenthaler, this method is used to help tackle the always-vital need for rest and recovery from the strenuous situations that SEALs and soldiers alike must face.

Whether it’s through the growing popularity on TikTok or through the Navy’s own talks about the beauty of sleep on its operations, this method has steadily become more popular with the busy modern lifestyle. But the questions remain: what is the Navy SEALs nap trick, and does it really work? Let’s find out.

What is the Navy SEALs nap?

The method itself is pretty simple. It goes as follows:

  1. Lie down on the ground – This is the ideal option, but you can also use a sofa, a chair, or anything else more comfortable. Try to avoid your bed, though.
  2. Elevate your feet above your heart to between 90-120 degrees – Using a pillow, or the end of a sofa, works well for this.
  3. Set an alarm for 12 minutes – While the alarm is set for 12 minutes, with this method, you’ll usually enter a state of half-sleep fast enough for 8 minutes.
  4. Breathe slowly and close your eyes – Even if you don’t actually manage to sleep in this time, don’t fret too much. Keep them closed and relax until you hear that alarm.
  5. Get up immediately once the alarm goes off – This is crucial to avoid sleeping longer and to get the maximum benefits from this method.

Remember, it can take time for you to get used to this method, and you may not fall asleep the first few times. Even without an actual snooze, people have reported feeling energised afterwards, so it’s worth giving it a go!

A person sleeping mid-hike with legs elevated, a cap over their face, and water running nearby from a river.

Does the Navy SEAL nap trick work?

Results are mixed on this one. For some, there are quick results that show from the method that helps restart them for the day ahead. For others, it simply does not work, whether that be due to distractions or other factors.

One writer from The Guardian, Anita Bhagwandas, tried the method out and found herself feeling good when waking up. She notes that she already had a nap habit formed, which means working a nap into the day at first before trying this method could be one approach for success.

Like any method of power napping, be it the Nappucino or others, there is an adjustment period, and it can also be a struggle for those who suffer from insomnia or back pain.

There is one more important thing to note: Any nap will not replace a good night’s sleep. It can help us get through the day and should be a tool in our sleep arsenal, but never a replacement for a solid kip.

Can you combine the Navy SEALs nap with other sleep tricks?

If you’re looking for more thorough sleep, then this method isn’t quite what you need. It can, however, work well with other options. One of these is the Military Sleep Method, which focuses on quickly falling asleep and activating the parasympathetic nervous system in an effective manner, something that many studies have highlighted as important to getting a good night’s rest.

You can also combine this quick nap with other sleep cycles, such as the Uberman cycle. We’ve got a breakdown of the 4 sleep cycles you need to know to do this effectively, but allowing space to rest up in between each cycle is no bad thing.

Why is this method popular?

As more and more people live busier lives, it can be a struggle to get all the rest we need. People want quick fixes, especially as, according to our sleep survey, only 43% of people get between 5 and 6 hours of sleep every night – with 18% getting even less!

Because of this, we can often find ourselves “lagging out” in the middle of the day as exhaustion takes over. And what do people do when they’re tired? They look for solutions! TikTok, as always, was a jumpstart for this method reaching the public eye, with some, like @malcomxcharles, going all in on the method:


Anyone try this? #8minutenap #napping #nyc

♬ original sound – bestspedup

Information about the importance of napping for high performance has been around online for years though, with the US Naval Institute itself weighing in on the topic. Here they even detail the importance of the power nap and break down the perfect window further by highlighting how a power nap best targets the second part of sleep that is light and restorative.

With so many people chasing their dreams, it makes sense that we’d want to get the most out of our rest.

Is napping good for you?

Many of us have been told that napping during the day is something we should grow out of and avoid in order not to disrupt our usual sleeping pattern. There is some truth to this. If you sleep too much during the day, or if you nap late in the afternoon/evening, you won’t feel tired at bedtime. This can easily become a cycle that is hard to break but will feel you leaving exhausted and out-of-sorts. Naps can’t replace a full night’s sleep, especially if they disrupt your circadian rhythm.

However, this is not to say that napping should be avoided entirely. Short, efficient rests in the middle of the day can:

  • Boost energy levels
  • Improve memory
  • Alleviate anxiety

Find out more about the different benefits from our ultimate guide to napping, which takes you through how to nap like a pro.

In short, the Navy SEALs nap can be a great way to recover in the middle of the day, but it won’t replace getting the sleep you need. If you’re struggling, reach out to the NHS and seek professional help, but feel free to make use of this method to help get you back on your feet.

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