Planning the Perfect Siesta

Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein, Napoleon Bonaparte and Thomas Edison have one thing in common with me: enjoying an afternoon nap.

There are cultures that dedicate a portion of their day to having a siesta. Every day, between 1 and 4 p.m., I close my eyes and take a much anticipated break by napping.

Being a busy college student with a big course load, I have found that napping has increased my productivity. Long gone are the sleepless nights doing homework and studying. I find that the minute I wake up, I get more done and feel less stressed or lethargic about the pile of homework that greets me at the foot of my bed.

Photo credit: Chantal Richards

According to the National Sleep Foundation, there are three different types of napping:

  1. Planned napping is when you take a nap before you get tired. This technique is used when you know you will be awake later than your normal bedtime or to ward off getting tired.
  2. Emergency napping is when you are so tired you can’t function anymore. This occurs when you are engaged in an activity like reading a book and fall asleep right then and there.
  3. Habitual napping is when you take a nap every day at the same time.

According to a Fast Company article, napping between 1 and 4 p.m. boosts productivity because it kick starts your brain to think it’s a second workday and doesn’t mess up your sleep schedule.

Falling asleep in class and at work isn’t ideal, but we all have those breaks in-between tasks  where we can squeeze in a power nap. Even at work, we have our lunch breaks where a few zzz’s can make our work ethic stronger.

An article on Higher Perspective says there are different time frames for the mid-day power nap:

  1. Napping for 10-20 minutes Increases alertness and gives a boost of energy. It’s the perfect amount without falling fully into rapid-eye-movement or REM sleep.
  2. Thirty-minute long naps are 10 minutes too long in that most people wake up groggy and tired  for an additional 30 minutes. Only after that time has passed do people feel the benefits of the nap.
  3. Hour-long naps help with remembering names, places and facts. It helps when studying for a midterm or having to memorize a speech. The only downside is some grogginess does occur upon waking up but at least you’ll remember all the dates for your history exam.
  4. Napping for an hour and a half is considered a full cycle of sleep, which boosts creativity, emotional and procedural memories and it is easier to wake up.

I am glad that I schedule a nap in everyday because I do reap the benefits.

It’s 1 p.m.; time to hit the hay.