Your Guide to Optimal Napping
‘Sleep lightly or briefly, especially during the day’, is the definition according to Google.
Also known as a siesta, they are what dreams are made of. The answer to all our prayers. The true meaning of life… perhaps a slight exaggeration.
There seems to be an even divide when it comes to naps.
Are they good or bad for you?
Well, if you’re looking for the answer, you are in exactly the right place.
The effects of sleep deprivation, the different types of naps, if they are good for you, napping mistakes you are probably making and much more is going to be covered in this article.
We have also done some extensive research on the best napping apps and accessories and found some real gems that are great for getting that afternoon kip.
History of the Siesta – Who was the First Person to take a Nap?
What does Siesta actually mean?
‘Siesta’ comes from the Latin ‘hora sexta’, which means ‘the sixth hour’.
As the hours of the day start at dawn, the sixth hour is noon, which is usually when the siestas start.
This wonderful invention started in hot countries across the Mediterranean and Southern Europe.
Have you ever noticed how much more you sleep when on holiday in a hot country? It’s the same for the people that live there. Energy levels get low and a siesta is the perfect way to rejuvenate.
A quick snooze and a boost in energy seems like a win-win to us.
It wasn’t just because of heat that siestas came about. Surely everyone has experienced the longing for sleep after they eat a huge lunch? Well, the people of Spain listened to what they’re bodies were begging for and they headed for bed.
This combination of the hottest point of the day and heavy lunching formed this beautiful creation; the siesta.
The tradition is still alive today and the Spaniards are famous for their two-hour afternoon break.
As far as knowledge on who the first person to ever take a nap was, it is unknown.
Could it have possibly been this man in the painting La Siesta in 1884? Maybe. (Probably not).
The Effects of Sleep Deprivation – Are You Getting Enough Sleep?
‘The lack or denial of something considered to be a necessity’ defines deprivation.
In simple terms, sleep deprivation is a lack of sleep, to the point where it is affecting everyday life.
Ever found your car keys in the fridge?
Or accidentally squirted some hand soap onto your toothbrush in the morning instead of toothpaste?
No? Great, you’re probably getting enough sleep.
Yes? Oh dear.
Sleep deprivation can be overlooked, but it can lead to devastating consequences.
We’ve all said or done something stupid (possibly hilarious) when over tired, but what are the real risks?
1.Can’t think? – Lack of sleep has a huge effect on your brain. It alters your ability to make decisions, your memory and can even affect your intelligence.
2.Putting on the pounds – Yes, it’s true. As if losing weight wasn’t difficult enough. If you’re a late-night gym-goer, you might want to think about swapping the dumbbells for your duvet.
We are probably all guilty of mistaking tiredness for hunger, but why? Find out the connection between food and tiredness on Foodlets and how to get your children to sleep.
3.You’ve turned into real life Bambi – a lack of sleep seriously messes with your motor skills and results in all kinds of clumsiness.
4.Was that today? – you have the memory of a goldfish. Sleep is crucial time for your brain to retain memories and recharge.
5.Wrinkles – now I’ve got your attention. You can look a little rough after a terrible night’s sleep, but a continuous lack of it has been proven to cause fine lines and dark circles.
Two words: don’t panic.
Keep reading to find out how you can kick sleep deprivation to the curb.
What are the Different Types of Naps?
Yes, there are different types of naps.
But, the most important thing to remember is that napping isn’t a one size fits all.
There are different types of naps for different types of people. If you want to feel the benefits, it is imperative that you understand which type suits you best.
The different types are split up into length of time:
- The Ultimate Power Nap: 10-20 minutes.
Perfect for a quick boost in energy and alertness. You won’t fall into a deep sleep and will wake up feeling refreshed, and it’s short enough to sneak into your lunch hour.
- The Avoid at all Costs Nap: 30 minutes
The name says it all. This type can cause you a hangover. Not the one you are probably used to, but a ‘sleep hangover’. This will leave you grumpy and groggy for at least 30 minutes after waking up.
- The Creative Nap: 60 minutes
This has been shown to not only boost energy and alertness, but also creativity. Perfect for all you Picassos.
- The Lazy Nap: 90 minutes
If you have time to fit one of these in, do. They will be the most beneficial as they mimic the balance of stages you’d go through in a 7 hour sleep.
What Kind of Nap Should I be Taking?
This can depend on a few factors.
Energy levels, time, tiredness, stress and environment are all important.
If you’re energy levels are low and you’re extremely tired, opt for 90 minutes.
If you have high levels of energy and don’t feel too tired, don’t force a long nap. There is such a thing as oversleeping, which can be equally as harmful.
If you are in a busy environment where you feel uncomfortable, a nap may not be the best idea. If you are anxious about falling asleep it will take you a lot longer and increase your stress.
Judge the situation you’re in and how you’re feeling as to how long you should nap for.
Should I Drink Caffeine Before a Nap?
You are probably expecting a no, but actually… yes. Drinking caffeine before a nap can have fantastic benefits.
Here is how it works.
It’s called a caffeine nap. Drink a cup of coffee and have a 20 minute nap. You will wake up feeling refreshed, alert and full of energy. But, why?
This is because caffeine takes 20 minutes before it starts to have an effect on your body. So, while your catching up on sleep for 20 minutes, the caffeine is getting to work on your brain and central nervous system.
When you wake up, you will feel its full effects. From this you receive the benefits of catching up on sleep and the energy from caffeine. Fantastic!
Tip: This is great for long distance driving when taking a break at a service station.
What Am I Doing Wrong? 7 Common Napping Mistakes
There can be lots of reasons why you can’t nap.
Have a read of these common mistakes to see if you can improve on your napping skills.
- The Bright Light – Even that slither of light that shines under your door from the landing can affect your sleep. Wherever you nap, try find a dark room and you will fall asleep much quicker.
- Lie Down – It can take 50% longer to fall asleep when you’re sat up.
- Get That Thermostat Just Right – Being too cold or too warm can result in a disaster when attempting to nap. Grab a blanket or open a window.
- Bedtime – Napping too close to bedtime is a bad idea, trust us. You will either not wake up and sleep through the night, which could result in oversleeping. Or, you won’t be able to sleep when you do eventually go to bed. Not ideal.
- Stressed Out – If you’re thoughts are going a million miles per hour, this will definitely prevent you from nodding off. Stress can be a major factor in sleep deprivation.
- Full 8 Hours – If you are getting enough sleep at night time, this could be why you can’t nap. Don’t force naps if you aren’t tired.
- A Cosy Set-up – Studies have proven that your bed is the optimal place for a nap. However, if you’re not at home, make sure you find somewhere comfortable. Preferably not your desk at work. Nobody would judge you for taking a pillow into the office.
Sleeping Accessories to Help You Nap
No-one should nap alone.
Did you know there are tons of tools and tricks that can help you achieve that mid-afternoon shuteye?
No? Don’t worry, we have done all the research for you. We have searched the internet far and wide, here are the best picks:
A simple way to dramatically improve your chances of napping and falling asleep quicker.
But what’s the science behind it?
When your brain detects pure darkness, it starts to release melatonin, which is also called the chemical of sleep.
So, if you are looking to block out all possibility of light, here are a couple of options:
The Body Shop – £4
Adorable and practical all wrapped up into a polar bear shaped package? Yes please.
Sleepstar – £14.95
If you are looking for something a little more sensible and potentially less embarrassing. The Ohropax 3D mask may be a little pricier, but it contours to the shape of your face and both sides are covered in extra comfy fabric.
Pillow sprays filled with aromatherapy oils and calming scents that have a wonderful relaxing effect on the brain.
Thisworks – £18 (75ml)
This heavenly blend of Lavender, Vetivert and Camomile will soothe your mind and body.
Neom Organics – £8 (5ml)
This spray will cost you more, but the 100% natural ingredients of English lavender, chamomile & patchouli plus 13 other essential oils are totally worth it, in our opinion.
If you take nothing else from this list, make sure you invest in a good pillow. It can make a world of difference when squeezing in a quick nap.
This 100% goose feather and down is so soft that you will want to make napping a regular routine.
Hafco Egyptian Cotton Microfibre – £6.95
A great synthetic option that can be just as luxurious as our high-end products with a 100% Egyptian Cotton Casing.
Music has been proven by many studies to help us drift off and improve quality of sleep. However, how you listen to it is also important.
Did you know that sleeping with earphones can kill your muscle tissue? You can read why on our sleep playlist blogpost.
Pillow speakers are a much safer way to enjoy some relaxing tunes.
Maplin – £12.99
Only being 30mm thick, you won’t notice a difference in the comfort of your pillow.
Puretone – £19.99
An ultra-thin design with an in-line volume control so you can adjust without having to reach for your phone.
How to Wake up from a Nap
Waking up can be even more difficult than falling asleep.
Have you overslept and feel groggy? Or just looking for a quick fix to feel refreshed?
Here are some expert tips:
- A Caffeine Kick – drinking caffeine is a proven method to fight grogginess. It will stimulate your mind and get you back on track with your day.
- Water – drinking water is a gentler way to wake yourself up. Get your metabolism started and electrolytes flowing.
- Bright Light and Fresh Air – try opening a window as soon as you wake up. The sunshine and cool air will tell your body that it’s time to wake up.
- Stretch it Out – especially if you have had a long nap it is a good idea to move around and stretch your muscles to shake off any stiffness or soreness.
- Snack – eating a quick snack will give you a boost of energy and settle your stomach.
The Best Apps for Napping
Using an app on your phone is an easy way to combat the anxiety of waking up and figuring out how long you should nap for.
Calming sounds, gentle alarms, expert advice and much more is what some of these apps have to offer.
We have done our research and are here to present you with the best ones:
This app has a timer of up to 30 minutes, perfect for those who prefer shorter naps. Features a pretty adorable animated cat and includes relaxing sounds and alarms.
‘Relaxing nature and ambient melodies to help you relax and unwind from your stressful day’.
If music isn’t your style, this app is a great way to block out the outside world.
‘The app’s patented system plays you a sleep-optimized mix of music, voiceover, and sound effects to quickly quiet your mind, put you to sleep, keep you asleep, and then wake you up feeling refreshed.’
Every time you use this app it creates a completely unique session, tailored just for you.
Customise this app to suit you by choosing from all the different features they have to offer.
Select your nap mode, alarm, sleep aid, snooze function and more.
A specialised scientific app that helps to train your brain into natural sleep rhythms. Includes a relaxation program, sleep programs and relaxing alarm sounds.
No Ratings Yet
Monitors your nap movements and wakes you up at after your desired length of time of up to 3 hours. Includes a wide variety of relaxing sounds.
You can also review your nap on a graph to analyse it further and it captures the loudest sound during your nap, so you can hear any noise, snoring or talking you do in your sleep!
With 5 stars, this app is a cut above the rest.
‘This simple, yet effective guided relaxation and visualization will give you some tools to access the incredible power of the mind/body connection.’
A relaxing voice that to one reviewer apparently ‘sounds like Sean Connery’. You can decide whether that is a good thing.
You can use this app on an iPhone or Apple watch.
This app has so many advanced features, including: save your naps to Health, mindful sessions, Siri support, monitor your heart rate, customise with colours, shake to snooze and much more.
Is Napping Still Not Working? It May Not be the Solution for You…
It is generally good for most people. However, there are those who just can’t nap, no matter how hard they try and hope.
But, it’s ok!
Some people just aren’t good nappers. No matter what you do, do you just keep waking up feeling tired, dazed and worse than you did before you fell asleep?
If you get a good night’s sleep, it may not be necessary for you.
As far as an explanation, it could be to do with genetics, although this hasn’t been proven.
Regardless, some people are natural nappers that will benefit from a brief slumber and others body and minds just totally disagree with all this siesta nonsense.
But, both are fine! Just listen to what your body is telling you.
See what works for you and what doesn’t. Listen to your body (and certainly your alarm clock) to see how you can get the most out of napping.
All the scientific research in the world can’t stack up against what your mind and body tells you, so this is what you really should be listening to.
(Although research can point you in the right direction).
Have we missed anything out in this article or do you have any burning questions? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Did you know that a third of the weight of your pillow can be made up of bug droppings, dead bugs and dead skin? If you want to keep reading and find out how to keep your bedding clean, why not take a look at our ultimate guide to duvets.