Your sleep drive, or homeostatic sleep pressure, is what causes you to feel energized when you wake up and progressively get weary throughout the day. Timing your naps appropriately necessitates an awareness of sleep architecture and the various parts of your sleep cycle in addition to your natural circadian rhythm and sleep desire.
A healthy adult’s sleep cycle consists of four distinct stages. A light, non-rapid-eye movement (NREM) sleep stage lasts two to three hours and is characterized by a progressive decrease in heart rate, breathing rate, body temperature, and brain activity. You’ll be able to get out of bed rather simply because these are light NREM stages.
Deep non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, also known as slow-wave sleep, is the final stage of the sleep cycle. At this moment in the sleep cycle, your brain activity, heart and breathing rates, and body temperature are all at their lowest points. It’s a lot more difficult to get folks to wake up during this stage of the NREM cycle than it was during the first two. Grogginess and disorientation are common reactions to waking up from slow-wave sleep.
In the penultimate stage of sleep, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, brain activity increases and eye movements become irregular. As your heartbeat and breathing rate rise, you’ll be more prone to have dreams during this phase. During the first 90 minutes of a typical night’s sleep, REM sleep typically begins. Slow-wave sleep is more prevalent in the first half of the night, while REM sleep is more prevalent in the latter half.
Morning naps are more likely to be light NREM (and potentially REM) slumber. Taking a late-night nap, on the other hand, will provide you a more restorative night’s sleep. It’s possible that this will make it difficult for you to sleep at night. Therefore, late-day snoozes are out of the question.
Tips for Taking a Successful Nap
According to a number of studies, a nap lasting no more than 10 minutes is the ideal amount of time. A fast nap can be taken in this amount of time without entering slow-wave sleep and waking up weary.
The results of one study were analyzed after respondents napped for five, ten, twenty, and thirty minutes. Ten-minute sleepers reported the greatest gains. They didn’t feel sleepy or tired when they woke up, and their cognitive abilities were good when they awoke. For up to 155 minutes after they awoke, individuals still felt the effects of their nap’s positive effects. Those who slept for 20 to 30 minutes reported the same favorable effects from napping as those mentioned above, but only after a 30 to 35 minute period of poor alertness and performance, as detailed in this article. When compared to individuals in the control group, who did not nap at all, the five-minute snooze did not have a significant impact.
Taking a nap at the right time of day is crucial. Taking a nap after 2 p.m. is generally discouraged by sleep specialists. Napping before 2 pm leads in a mix of light and REM sleep, while napping after 2 pm results in a more slow-wave sleep pattern. Because of this, you might have trouble falling and staying asleep later that night, potentially upsetting your natural sleep pattern.
Other tips for napping include:
- If you can’t squeeze in a nap after lunch, exposure to bright light can provide a similar energy boost to help you finish your day.
- Consuming a moderate amount of caffeine (such as a small cup of coffee) or splashing water on your face can alleviate feelings of grogginess after waking from a nap.
- Consider wearing an eye mask and earplugs
Prior to taking a nap, some people find that taking a caffeine pill helps. Caffeine takes around 30 minutes to kick in, so you’ll wake up from a nap feeling more awake than before. Caffeine, on the other hand, should be avoided for at least six hours before bedtime since it might disrupt your sleep cycle, making it more difficult to fall asleep.
What are the benefits of napping?
Napping offers various benefits for healthy adults, including:
- Reduced fatigue
- Increased alertness
- Improved mood
- Improved performance, including quicker reaction time and better memory
What are the drawbacks to napping?
It’s not for everyone to take a nap. There are some persons who are just unable to sleep during the day or who have difficulty sleeping in places other than their own beds, which napping may necessitate.
Napping can also have negative effects, such as:
- Sleep inertia. You might feel groggy and disoriented after waking up from a nap.
- Problems sleeping at nighttime. Most people’s evening sleep quality is unaffected by short naps. Napping, on the other hand, may exacerbate sleep disorders such as insomnia or poor sleep quality. Napping frequently or for long periods of time can have a negative impact on your ability to sleep at night.
When should I consider a nap?
You might consider making time for a nap if you:
- Experience new fatigue or unexpected sleepiness
- Are about to experience sleep loss — for example, due to a long work shift
- Want to make planned naps part of your daily routine
What’s the best way to take a nap?
To get the most out of a nap, follow these tips:
- Naps should be brief. Nap for no more than 20 minutes at a time. A snooze that lasts a longer period of time is more likely to leave you feeling tired. Young adults, on the other hand, may be able to take longer naps.
- In the early afternoon, take a nap. Taking a nap after 3 p.m. can disrupt sleep at night. To choose the optimal time of day to take an afternoon nap, you must take into account aspects such as your sleep schedule, your age, and whether or not you are taking medication.
- Create a relaxing atmosphere. Take a nap in a room that is dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature with minimum interruptions.
- Take some time to wake up after a nap, especially if you’re doing something that requires a quick or sharp reaction.
Napping in Children
Children who take naps are more likely to obtain enough sleep at night. A child’s physical, intellectual, and emotional well-being depend on getting enough sleep. Taking naps in children of all ages has been the subject of research for decades.
- Infants (under a year old): Sleeping for the most of the day is natural for infants. As many as four naps per day are possible for them, lasting anything from 30 minutes to two hours at a time. Taking an extended snooze after learning has been shown to aid memory consolidation in newborns, according to research.
- Even if napping decreases during the first year of life, it is still vital and beneficial for toddlers to get some shut-eye. According to one study, toddlers who napped showed better self-regulation of their emotions and conduct than toddlers who didn’t nap. Children’s language development may benefit from snoozing, according to research.
- Children between the ages of three and five require 10 to 13 hours of sleep per night. Some toddlers are able to sleep through the night without needing a nap, while others need a nap during the day in addition to their nighttime sleep.
- After the age of 5, some children may cease napping, however children’s sleep requirements and nap preferences vary widely. Children (6-12 years old)
- Teens (aged 13 to 17): Teens face a variety of difficulties when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep. Adolescents’ cognitive performance can be maintained with the use of a recovery nap. It was also discovered that youths who took naps at lunchtime had shorter nighttime sleep cycles than those who did not. Teenagers who already have difficulty sleeping through the night may find that taking a nap during the day is useless.
Napping in Adults
In young adults, many of the favorable effects described in napping children are also present. Adolescent and early adult napping has been shown to reduce fatigue and enhance cognitive function as well as emotional stability. Everyone isn’t able to take a nap in the middle of the day. Taking a nap may be impossible due to work and other commitments. Additionally, some people have trouble sleeping during the day or when they are away from home.
Very long midday naps have been linked to negative health effects in older persons (more than an hour in duration). The risk of diabetes, heart disease, and depression have been related to extended naps. Taking extended naps in the middle of the day may be a symptom that the quality of your night’s sleep is shaky. There is a need for further investigation into how napping and these unfavorable outcomes in older persons are related.