Do you take naps during the day? Due to the nature of my current job, I’m now able to squeeze in some nap time during the day when I feel drowsy or tired. And napping really helps me to feel more rejuvenated afterwards. The importance of napping can’t be overstated enough; I think napping is the best secret to derive the most benefit out of sleep – but the fact is, we don’t get enough of it!
There is nothing wrong with an afternoon siesta. Maybe it’s due to our conditioning that leads us to believe that napping is somehow lazy, or bad for productivity. Quite the opposite in fact, is true. Napping helps me feel re-energized and I’m able to get more work done than if I didn’t nap. But here is one detail I think that needs mentioning, and that is – only take a nap when it is needed, and of course, don’t overdo it.
Optimal power napping
Optimal napping times range from 5-45 minutes, although sometimes you could wind up sleeping longer than that. Personally, I don’t set any alarm and just go with the flow; although I can usually wake myself up within a stipulated time if I “instruct” myself to do that. Most of the time, my naps only last 20 or so minutes long, and unintentional at that; I just wake up automatically.
You might have heard of the phrase – “Power Nap.” This term coined by Dr James Maas refers to a short nap of 15-20 minutes and is now in vogue, but it wasn’t until people began to understand that inserting such small naps during the day can help substitute for a poor night’s sleep and boost performance. Sometimes one session is not enough; you may need 2 nap sessions if your body is really calling for it. Go ahead and nap if you can; wearing a sleep eye mask/eye shade helps a lot.
It is true you can experience vivid dreaming during a short nap of 20 odd minutes and wake up feeling like you’ve slept an entire night. Not all my naps are like that, but sometimes I do have such nice naps Experiencing dreaming during a nap means that REM sleep has occurred. The key to get the most out of napping without it jeopardizing your normal night sleep, is to not sleep too long until you experience REM stage 3 and 4. Two common side effects of over-napping are grogginess and inability to sleep later on at night.
Experimenting is best
Try experimenting with what suits you best. Recommended nap periods are during the late morning up till about 4 pm; usually our body is at its lowest ebb after lunch (during mid-late afternoon). There is really no “fixed” time limit for a daytime nap as long as you are:
- Having a more or less normal sleeping pattern at night
- Not experiencing bad depression
- Not having a sleeping disorder
Napping should never be regarded as a substitute for a proper night of sleep, unless you are intending to adopt a polyphasic sleeping lifestyle (which has not been confirmed to be totally free of long term side effects), but that is another subject altogether. Now, if only more companies could allow “siesta time” for their employees, I’m sure they would be more productive in the long run.