A Primer For The Perfect Nap

By Sumathi Reddy

Father and Baby Napping

There’s an art to napping.

Research have found various advantages–and hurts–to a rest’s timing, duration and also effect on different people, depending on one’s age and probably genetics.

“Naps are actually more complex than we recognize,” said David Dinges, a slumber scientist in the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine.

“You need to be deliberative about when you’re going to nap, how long you’re going to nap and if you’re trying to utilize the nap relative to work or what you’ve got coming up.”

A snooze on the sofa on a Sunday afternoon may appear like the perfect method for a responsible adult to unplug. But at a time when nearly one-third of people report not getting enough sleep, more naps, albeit short ones, might make for a much more practical workforce, researchers say.

How Long to Nap

Sleep specialists break sleep into several periods, that your brain cycles through approximately every 90 to 120 minutes.

These phases are broadly characterised into non rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. NREM is further separated into position one and two, which are considered light and intermediate sleep, accompanied by slow wave sleep.

Awakening from slow-wave sleep, the deepest sort, results in what doctors call sleep inertia or sleep drunkenness: that groggy sensation that will take awhile to shake-off. In The End, there’s REM sleep, often associated with dreaming.

Sara Mednick, an assistant psychology professor at the University of California, Riverside, said the most useful snooze depends upon what the napper needs.

  • For a quick boost of vigilance, experts say a 10-to-20-minute power nap is adequate for getting back to work in a crunch.
  • For cognitive memory processing, however, a 60-minute snooze may do more great, Doctor. Mednick said. Including slow wave sleep helps with remembering facts, places and faces. The negative: some stupor upon awakening.
  • Lastly, the 90-minute rest will probably demand a complete cycle of sleep, which assists creativity and psychological and procedural memory, including learning how to ride a bicycle. Waking up after REM sleep usually indicates a minimal amount of sleep inertia, Dr. Mednick said.

Experts say the ideal time to nap is generally between the hours of 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Napping later in the day could interfere with nighttime sleep. Siesta time for a lot of cultures around the world bear out the benefits of a mid day nap.

The body’s circadian rhythms help people to anticipate to be alert in the morning and early within the night. “So in the event that you take naps as soon as your brain doesn’t be prepared to be sleeping, you feel sort of thrown off,” contributing to the sleep inertia impact, said Rafael Pelayo, a medical professor at Stanford University School of Medicine’s Sleep Medicine Center.

A tell-tale sign to be quite sleep-deprived, he said, is dreaming during a brief nap. “Definitely in a 20 minute rest you should not be dreaming,” he said.

Ilene Rosen, an associate professor of clinical medicine at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine, said the ideal duration of the nap is still being debated, but broadly speaking the “10-to-20 minute nap is really the best time concerning bang for your buck.”

Sleeping WomanLeon Lack, a psychology professor at Flinders University in Australia, seen in a 2006 study in the journal Sleep that among shorter breaks, 10-minute naps packed the most clout.

The study compared naps including 30 seconds to half an hour, examining 24 members at each one of several times. After every rest the persons were examined on many different mentalprocessing jobs. The sharpness of the 10minute nappers became apparent “right away,” Doctor. Absence said, and stayed apparent for about two to 2 1/2 hours.

People who took 20- and 30-minute naps tended to feel groggy instantly after the rest for about half an hour. From there, they revealed mental sharpness similar to what researchers observed from the 10-minute nappers, with that sharpness lasting somewhat longer.

Jonathan Brandl is a Newton, Mass.-based consultant who works at home. Up at 5 a.m. hitting the gym, he finds himself fading around 2 p.m. His solution is a fast snooze in a cozy chair in his den. His trick for waking up: He holds a pen or pencil in his hand, which typically falls about 10 to 15 minutes into his nap, waking him up.

“After the nap, I feel completely refreshed and power through the rest of the day,” the 56-year-old Mr. Brandl said.

Although napping at work frequently stays taboo, experts say growing scientific evidence of its own benefits has led select workplaces to take it.

Christopher Lindholst, ceo and co founder of New York based MetroNaps, has installed specially-designed sleeping pods for Google, Huffington Post, an Iowa construction company and also the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team. The chairs retail for $8,995 to $12,985. (I’m guessing most of usbe sleeping in 13K specialization chairs, & most companies will most probably tolerate drooling in the desk rather than pop for these high-tech slumber aids).

The 60minute nap might not be kosher in most workplaces, but it additionally has its pluses.

Man Sleeping at Work on KeyboardIn a 2012 research in the journal Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, investigators split 36 faculty-aged students into three groups. Each group discovered a memory process, matching words on a screen with an audio. Afterward, one team had 60 minutes to rest, another 10 minutes. The last group didn’t rest.

Upon retesting, the napping groups fared better, as anticipated, said Sara Alger, lead author of the analysis along with a post-doctoral research associate at the University of Notre-dame.

More fascinating, she noted, was that on additional testing, including a week after, the 60 minute group performed far much better than the 10-minute group, which now performed as badly as the non-napping group. The researchers concluded that slowwave sleep–simply experienced by the 60-minute nappers–is necessary for memory consolidation.

Researchers continue to explore why some individuals don’t seem to profit from naps. Dr. Mednick said continuing studies are considering potential genetic differences between habitual and non-habitual nappers.

Sweet DreamsKimberly Cote, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, saidindividuals who don’t generally rest are inclined to steal into the deep stages of sleep more swiftly than individuals who do. Various studies have found through monitoring brain waves that regular nappers are good at maintaining a light sleep once they nap and show better performance enhancements than their non-napping counterparts.

“We’re unsure what these individual variations are,” she said, “if that’s something that they’ve learned to do with time or when there’s something biologically distinct that enables them to nap like that.”

Another trick to getting up perky after a short nap will be to drink a cup of coffee before sleeping. Caffeine won’t hurt this type of short break and ought to minimize the results of sleep inertia.

Doctor. Dinges advocates sleeping somewhat upright to ensure it is simpler to awaken. Studies, he said, have found that not lying utterly flat leads to avoiding falling into a deeper sleep.

“A lot of people say, ‘I simply need four hours of sleep a night.’ There’s a number of these around but not too many,” he said.

Write toSumathi Reddy at sumathi.reddy@wsj.com

A variant of this article appeared September 3, 2013, on page D1 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: A Field Guide for the Ideal Nap.

See Related:

A Good Night’s Sleep Increases Cardiovascular Benefits Of A Healthful Lifestyle

Go Ahead, Hit The Snooze Button

Sleep Disturbances Related To Work Disability

5 Things You Most Likely Don’t Understand About Sleep — But Should