Here in Paris we don’t enjoy daylight savings time until March 30th, but we know that on Sunday night the rest of the world lost an hour of sleep. In honor of the hour lost, this week celebrates the mid-day ritual that is an integral part of some cultures, frowned upon in others, yet scientifically proven to be good for you: the glorious nap. Read on to learn 5 weird facts about naps that you likely weren’t aware of…
Polyphasic Sleep Schedule:
Although we’re told from a young age that we should ideally get 6-9 hours of sleep each night, it’s actually possible to function with far less per night.
A lot of Latin cultures follow a biphasic sleep schedule, with 5-6 hours of sleep per night and a 30-60 minute nap in the afternoon. That’s 5.5 hours minimum and 7 hours maximum- far less than we’re taught is healthy, yet somehow they're still functioning as a society.
Some experimental sleepers have adopted polyphasic sleep schedules that have allowed them to cut down on sleep to as little as 3 hours per day. Especially with the advent of the internet to learn about and dabble in alternative sleep patterns, many people have publicized their success with polyphasic sleep patterns. The Everyman sleep schedule involves a steady sleep block from 1 am – 4 am and then three 20-minute naps throughout the day and has actually cited success. Successful adopters have said that they don’t feel tired, just sometimes bored with the large amount of time they’ve freed up throughout the day and night. Science can also back the potential benefits- in its sleep deprived state, the body will sometimes immediately transfer into the REM sleep state during each sleeping period, which could make it just as effective as much longer blocks of sleep.
However, lifetime effects of polyphasic sleeping are unstudied, unknown, and in my opinion not recommended.
Drink Coffee Before a Nap:
You wouldn’t believe it but caffeine takes 20-30 minutes to kick in after consumption. If you feel immediately awake after drinking a cup of coffee, you’re likely enjoying a fun little placebo effect. In reality drinking a cup of coffee, napping, then waking up right as it takes effect is an efficient way to time your caffeine boost to hit you the minute you wake up.
If you sometimes feel groggy and disoriented after a long nap it’s because of a physiological effect called sleep inertia. A short nap of 20-30 minutes will keep you alert for several hours, but a nap of 60 minutes will keep you feeling awake for a solid 10 hours. The only downside is that sleep inertia can slow you down and leave you tired and unproductive for up to 4 hours.
This undesirable state results from waking up during the REM sleep cycle, so allowing yourself to wake up naturally from a nap will help you avoid it.
Alcohol Will Have a Stronger Effect
After just 5 nights of not getting enough sleep, 3 alcoholic drinks will affect you the same way that 6 would if you were perfectly rested.
Napping Can Save Your Life:
Studies have shown that napping raises stamina by 11%, increases your ability to sleep through the night by 12% and lowers the time required for you to fall asleep by 14%. The Ancient Greeks even found that napping at least 3 times a week lowered the death rate due to heart problems by 37%.