July 11, 2012
Teens, students, working adults and the elderly – regardless of age, we all are encouraged to have eight hours of sleep to maintain good health, vitality and vigor every day. However, most of us do not have enough time as we’re busy juggling our daily responsibilities and hectic schedules. If we succumb to stressful activities and don’t allow ourselves to take respites, our overall productivity may decrease and this impacts us negatively.
Recommended Nap Duration
Studies suggest that we should take 10-30 minutes a day to nap and give ourselves more efficiency to function for the rest of the day. Brief power naps or deep meditations (sleeping with monitored breathing) can cause high cortisol levels (hormones regulating stress) to lower down and normalize, while naps longer than the recommended half an hour can cause sleep inertia as you will wake up prematurely and feel groggy. Longer naps may also interfere with our nighttime sleep. So until then, better set an alarm or ask someone to wake you up.
Best Time to Nap
The human body is programmed for two periods of intense sleepiness, hence there are two types of sleepers/chronotypes: larks and owls. The lark wakes up at 6am and goes to sleep around 9pm to 10pm, while the owl goes to bed after 1am and wakes up at around 8am to 9am. It is important to determine which type you belong to as this would also determine the best time for you to take a nap.
For larks, you might think that the wave of sleepiness in the afternoon comes because of your heavy lunch or the cozy room temperature. But no, you are feeling the midday drowsiness because of the certain innate phase in our physiology, which reduces our reaction time and makes it harder for us to stay alert and focused. Hence, your best time to snooze is from 1pm to 3pm. For owls, the best time for your sleep gate to open is from 2:30pm to 3pm. This is when your energy level dips because of a rise in the hormone melatonin.
Spare a Few Minutes to Nap
If you feel sleepy anytime during the day, avoid taking large quantities of caffeine and food heavy in fat and sugar, as these will meddle with your ability to fall asleep later on. Thanks to researchers, naps are now associated with alertness and creativity, not anymore with laziness. So don’t fret to take a nap and be energized!