We resisted as kids but love them as adults!
Having an afternoon siesta can have many health benefits and can improve mood and performance. If you don’t like to take naps from fear of waking up feeling worse or effecting your sleep later that night then timing your nap can help.
There are 5 stages of sleep and it takes around 90 minutes to complete all 5, this includes a light and deep sleep state. The length of a full sleep cycle differs from person to person but making sure we don’t wake up during a deep sleep state is the key to a good power nap.
Lets go through a quick summary of each stage of sleep:
This usually last around 10mins. It is the stage where your muscles haven’t fully relaxed yet, you still have a sense of awareness and It’s quite easy to be woken up. During this stage people can experience what is know as the ‘Hypnic Jerk’ Which is an involuntary twitch of the muscles just as you start to fall asleep and this is what can cause you to awaken suddenly.
Knowlege bomb – Some say that the ‘Hypnic Jerk’ is a reflex that humans developed during the evolutionary process to prevent them from falling out of trees as they slept in them.
This lasts for about 20mins and it becomes harder to wake up towards the end of this stage as your body prepares to go into a deep sleep.
Stages 3 & 4
These two stages are considered a deep sleep state. The difference between the two are the types of brain waves they produce. Waking up during these stages is what can gives you that groggy and disorientated feeling.
Knowlege bomb – It is in this deep sleep state that you produce your Growth Hormone (GH). This is a hormone that is essential for recovery and muscle growth. This is why it is important that we get good sleep. Substances like alcohol and caffeine can effect deep sleep and the prevent the release of GH.
REM (Rapid Eye Movement)
This is the final stage before you complete a full sleep cycle. It is the stage which you are at your deepest sleep. However your brain activity is similar to that of being awake, even though your muscles are paralysed. This is where you you have your most powerful dreams and lasts for about 10minutes.
Once you complete a full sleep cycle you start the process again. However, you spend less time in a deep sleep state and spend more time in stages 1 and 2 as morning approaches. Each stage will start to decrease and you will alternate between light sleep and REM.
So….whens the best time to take a nap?
Based on the time frames of the 5 stages of sleep. 10-20mins is an ideal nap time to wake up feeling more refreshed. If short nap isn’t going to cut the mustard, then a full 90 minute sleep cycle will help you feel more revived and avoid that sleep inertia.
Happy napping : )