Napping

According to Sumathi Reddy from The Wall Street Journal, “the perfect nap is a mix of art and science”. But what really is the science behind it?

Our bodies have an alarm clock that works to wake us up in the morning and tells us it is time to go to bed at night. It is the mental alarms that beeps when we know that we have the SAT’s the next day at 7 a.m. and the Nyquil that knocks us out late at night because of school the next day. Scientifically, it is called a circadian rhythm, which is the part of us that responds to light in our environment. The best time to take a nap is between 1 and 4 in the afternoon (Reddy). This way, a person is not napping at a time that is too close to their bedtime or too early after they awoke.

Timing for a nap is important too. Too long of a nap can leave a person feeling as though they are more tired than they were beforehand. This is due to our REM cycles, or rapid eye movement, which is what causes a sleeper to dream. REM hits 5 stages: 1,2,3,4, and REM. The first stage is a 10-minute short and light sleep. The second is where the body relaxes deeper but you are still in a light sleep. The third and fourth stage of REM is where your body completely relaxes into a deep sleep. Once the body reaches REM this is where the most brain activity occurs and when we experience dreams.

If a person wants to makeup lost hours of sleep the best choice is: REM sleep that takes about 90-120 minutes of sleep. This form of sleep will leave a person groggy but will make up for lost time.

If a person is looking for a quick rejuvenation: a short 10-20 minute sleep is preferred.

If a person would like to remember something they have just learned or something forgotten, they should take an hour-long nap.

The overall best nap to take is a 10-minute nap according to Leon Lack, a psychologist who conducted an experiment on the effectiveness of naps.

10 thoughts on “Napping

  1. Elisa B Jones

    Naps are so beneficial that companies like Google and Apple allowing employees to take naps on the job. “Studies show that power naps, short 10 to 15 minute naps, improve mental efficiency and productivity, which is a small investment in time for such a big payoff in company morale and production” (http://lifehacker.com/5950732/the-science-of-the-perfect-nap). Could this theory also be put into use in the school systems? I think an experiment should be done to see if power naps in the school system would increase productivity in the child. Children are constantly growing so the naps could be beneficial to the child and the teacher.

  2. Analeigh Joy Crisanti

    As I was scrolling down the page, I couldn’t help but to read these because 1)I love naps way more than I should and 2) naps are a huge part of my life. I found it to be very interesting that the best way to get rejuvenated is a 10-20 minute nap. That never seems to work for me. It would be interesting to see if the numbers for that change based on the average hours of sleep a person gets per night.

  3. Nicolas Lau

    I have known that naps were beneficial throughout the day. However, I have some major discrepancies about certain suggestions, such as the 10-20 minute nap for rejuvenation. Unless I wake up naturally, I always find myself extremely crabby and annoyed. Other than that, I do enjoy your explanation of the sleep cycles. Maybe I should start sleeping in intervals of 90 minutes

  4. lmm6078

    The name of this post caught my eye right away. Napping is my favorite thing to do, especially ever since I entered college. I don’t go to bed until 3 almost every night so naps are like my next best friend in college.

  5. Martin Anthony Lazzaro

    I love taking naps and your topic obviously caught my eye. Good work. My question to further this discussion is what affect does the time of day have on how we feel waking up from a nap

  6. Thomas Curran

    This post really caught my eye because of the fact that I love to take naps during the day especially after not getting a good night of sleep. I agree with the part about not napping too close to sleeping time at night. I have done this before and it makes it very difficult to fall asleep, and then I just end up being tired the next day as well. This topic is very interesting and relatable, so I would definitely like to look into it a little more and research some experiments that have taken place to prove these facts. I will most definitely be taking these tips into consideration next time I need a nap to see if they really work!

  7. Grace K Hayba

    This post was very interesting because I personally love sleep. I always feel a little guilty clocking out mid-day, but now that I know it can benefit me when trying to remember something, perhaps I will increase my naps taken! I especially love the part about naps being a mixture of art and science. It would be interesting to conduct an experiment and see how the napping aided memory compared to these memory tricks posted to Time online.

  8. Grace K Hayba

    This post was very interesting because I personally love sleep. I always feel a little guilty clocking out mid-day, but now that I know it can benefit me when trying to remember something, perhaps I will increase my naps taken! I especially love the part about naps being a mixture of art and science. It would be interesting to conduct an experiment and see how the napping aided memory compared to these these memory tricks posted to Time online.

  9. Walt

    My mother suffers from sleep apnea, and her doctor, Dr. Sunseri from the Allegheny Health Network, told her that the best naps are either about 15 minutes like you said, or about 70 minutes. If you take a nap in between that time frame, the body wakes up before 1 REM cycle is completed which can lead to even more tiredness. Taking naps is a pleasure for a college student, but I never seem to have 70 minutes to go through and entire sleep cycle. I therefore usually only stick to the power nap. In other cultures, such as the Japanese culture, naps are common tools used to stay alert during the work day. Employees may take “inemuri” to combat lethargy during the work day.

  10. Alexander William Beitel

    This was an interesting post especially since I am a firm believer in the power of naps. I was able to especially relate to the fact that longer naps can leave you more tired than when you began. I have experienced this many times. I definitely agree that there is a science when it comes to the perfect nap.

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