Most of us aren’t getting enough sleep. Fact. Research shows that an adult needs between 7 to 9 hours every night for adequate cognitive and physical recovery. Even getting by on 6 hours a night impairs your performance over time.
I’ll cover the fascinating subject of sleep in another post (and we’ve got a great podcast on it – search for The Midlife Mentors), this post is about the science of napping.
Research consistently shows that naps during the day improve both mental and physical performance significantly, so if you’re flagging, or not getting your minimum sleep needs at night, a nap is one sure fire way to aid your recovery.
When and for how long are the big questions. Between 1pm and 3pm is the optimum time, and 90 minutes the optimum length, allowing you to cycle between the stages of sleep. However the downside is you can wake up groggy from such a long sleep and let’s face it, an hour and half out your day is not achievable for most people.
A nap of 30 minutes will allow you to cycle through the first 2 stages of sleep without going into REM and Slow Wave Sleep, allowing you to wake up alert and more focused.
If you want to improve memory, problem solving and creativity you need to tap into REM sleep and your circadian rhythm means your best to do this earlier in the day with a nap time of around 45 minutes.
If you’re looking for physical restoration you need to tap into your Slow Wave Sleep (deep sleep) so you’ll need 60 to 90 minutes, and later in the day is better. SWS sleep turns off stress hormone cortisol and releases regenerative Human Growth Hormone.
What’s your favourite time for a nap, and for how long?