In our quest to make siestas socially acceptable — enforced even — we’ve composed an effect-focussed nap guide that suggest the appropriate duration to best suit your needs.
YOU NEED: Immediate alertness
Try the ‘caffeine nap’. While it may seem like an oxymoron, the strategic consumption of coffee just before the shortest of shut-eyes is in fact enlightened. Plus it’s been proven by a study at Loughborough University in the UK to improve the alertness of long-distance drivers. The stimulant needs time to circulate so it won’t jeopardize nap quality. Instead, while you snooze, it makes its way around the body clearing adenosine (a chemical that makes you drowsy) so you rise revived and just in time for the surge of caffeine-induced clarity.
YOU NEED: To be de-stressed
Depending on what time you awoke, a half hour catnap around 2pm is the cortisol break your body needs to repair and calm fraying nerves. While our circadian rhythm encompasses daytime wakefulness during the day with increasing sleepiness, it is common to encounter a ‘hump’ mid-afternoon, making it sensible to nap when you can.
YOU NEED: To keep going and going
You may already be familiar with the ‘nana nap’ in anticipation for a big night out. The same, referred to by researchers as the ‘prophylactic nap’, is a proven preventative measure when sleep deprivation is unavoidable. And while the positive effects of improved cognitive performance and alertness last only 8-10 hours after your pre-emptive shut-eye, it is a far better approach to not napping and knocking back multiple cups of coffee.
YOU NEED: Total Recall
Whether you’re prepping for an important presentation or simply need to speed up your internal processor in time for the weekly pub quiz, go forth and take that nap. Longer than the usual, by slipping into Stage 2 sleep you will awaken refreshed while Stage 3 and 4 will unclutter the mind and lock in information so it’s ready to be accessed at the drop of a hat. Now if only someone had clued you up on this effective cramming trick when you were still in school.