How long should you nap for?

Come on, admit it, we’re all impartial to a cheeky little nap. Whether you need recharging from a heavy night out, you’ve been kept awake all night by a screaming baby, or your brain is just simply addled from the stresses of work and life, we can all sometimes benefit from a little catch-up nap. And it’s not just because it feels good, having a quick snooze can also boost your alertness, relieve stress and make you much more productive for the rest of the day.

So, should we all be asleep right now? Well actually, humans are pretty weird in the mammal world because we do all of our sleeping in one long stretch, whereas the majority of our furrier friends like to mix it up with a variation of long and short naps in between activities in order to recharge appropriately throughout the day– sounds ideal, right? It does seem like a much less disruptive and healthier way of keeping yourself alert, rather than reaching for the coffee and sugar, sure. But, unfortunately we all have this little thing to do called work, parenthood, responsible adulting etc etc bla bla bla so yes, very funny animal kingdom, you can just keep on laughing at us as all as we continue to put sleep at the very bottom of our priority list and dutifully ration our sleep to ensure that our worlds keep on turning.

But, before you all go ahead and book in an afternoon nap on the work calendar and order some extortionately priced Google nap pods (*other nap pods are available) for the office, there are apparently some rules to napping that we should all take into account in order to get the maximum benefits of those all-important mini zzzz’s.

Power naps:

The shortest of the nap family and the most difficult to nail. The power nap is universally acknowledged as being 20-30 minutes in length. This amount of time allows us to get to stage 2 sleep – this is where heart rate slows, body temperature cools and your sensory awareness fades.

This is not a deep sleep however, but is usually the warm up to one (the pre-drinks before the party, if you like) which is why, if done well, you can wake up feeling refreshed but not overly groggy.

It is alleged that power naps help to enhance motor function, increase attention span and improve your mood – meaning that you should be better equipped to deal with any afternoon tasks with renewed enthusiasm.

Power nap tip: If, like me, you are terrible at sticking to the short amount of time required for an effective power nap, I once read that if you nap lying flat on your back with your arms folded across your chest, by the time your muscles relax enough to let your arms drop – the motion of which will wake you up – you’ll have been asleep for the exact amount of time required to benefit from a power-nap.

Long-ish naps:

Now, this is the nap danger -zone as you need to find a sufficient amount of time (ideally around 90 minutes) so that you can complete one whole sleep cycle without it merging into your actual bedtime, in other words, this is not, I repeat not, appropriate to attempt during a full working day.

Allowing 90 minutes for a longer nap allows you to enter stage 3 and 4 of sleep which includes REM and deep sleep. By completing one entire sleep cycle during your nap, it allows you to catch up on the sleep you may have missed the night before, and should bring you back to some kind of level of normality so that you can complete the rest of your day in an un-zombie-like state.

Long-ish nap tip: Make sure you rest your weary head on something comfortable, because 90 minutes is long enough to ensure the that imprint of a wicker chair, children’s toy or tv remote will stay etched on your face until the end of the day.

When should you nap?

Well, this depends on your ‘chronotype’ apparently – for example most people are either ‘larks’ or ‘owls’ – larks going to bed and waking earlier, and owls doing the opposite. Therefore, earlier risers will naturally want to nap earlier in the day than their night-crawler counterparts and vice versa.

However, napping isn’t for everyone and is certainly not something that most people can realistically incorporate into their daily routine – which is fine – but what we all do need to remember is that sleep is really important. It’s restorative and essential to a healthy and happy functioning human being, so next time we reach for the coffee or red-bull to keep us awake and energised, we should try to think twice about how much restful and quality sleep we are actually getting, and focus on trying to recharge in a healthier way.

Whilst we’re not napping, or drowning in caffeine, we’re making sure that our clients don’t have any sleepless nights over their branding. Check out some of our latest digital and creative design work here and get in touch today at either one of our Marlow or Nottingham based offices, we’d love to hear from you!