The definition of a siesta is ‘an afternoon rest or nap, especially one taken during the hottest hours of the day in a hot climate2’ so it makes sense to learn that the ideal time for a nap is between 1-4pm. The exact time though, would depend on what time you wake and go to bed. Napping too late in the day could interfere with falling asleep at night. However if you haven’t woken up until 9am, you probably won’t need to nap until closer to 3pm.
Another factor, and possibly an even more important one for determining how rested and refreshed you feel, is the length of your nap. For example, it’s highly likely that an hour nap could leave you feeling sleepier than a 10 min nap. Studies have tested a range of nap times, but for most people, 10-20 minutes is all you need to get the benefits of napping.
|10-20 min nap - a power nap of this length keeps you in the lighter stages of non-REM sleep, making it easier for you to get up charging. You may need to set an alarm to ensure you don’t snooze for too long.|
|30 nap - you’ll hit the deeper stages of sleep, where your brain waves start to slow down, which may cause sleep inertia, that groggy feeling where you actually less alert (for about 30 min post nap) than before.|
|60 min nap - while you still may feel some grogginess upon waking (since you’re woken from some slow wave sleep) this nap length is actually best for improvement in remembering facts.|
|90 min nap - if you nap for this long, you’ve had one full cycle of sleep (including lighter, deeper and REM stages of sleep). It is usually easier to wake up at this time and avoid sleep inertia. It could also lead to improved procedural and emotional memory and creativity.|
Some place nice and warm would make your nap a proper ‘siesta’, but we’re not all so lucky. Fortunately, you don’t need to be in Spain or on a beach in Mexico to enjoy a siesta. A dark, quiet place will do the trick, but equally, a parked car, (or in the passenger seat of a moving car) on a train, under a desk or on a couch are all suitable ‘happy napping spots’. An eye mask or ear plugs may help tune out disruptions, but make sure you can hear your alarm in order to time your nap right. To avoid a deep sleep, it may be best to remain upright also.
- It is suggested that a person who dreams during a short nap is likely to be sleep-deprived.
- People who exercised (vigorous exercise) were more apt to nap than those who hadn’t 3
- Try a ‘napalatte’, or short caffeine nap, for maximum rejuvenation. Drink a cup of coffee and take a 20-minute nap immediately afterwards. The caffeine takes about 20 min to kick in, so should coincide with waking time leaving you feeling mentally sharp and refreshed4