Naps. We take ’em all the time. Those wonderful and refreshing snoozes we all enjoy which can vary from customary mid-afternoon lie-downs to those long and much-needed slumbers. Even animals have to sleep! The proof lies in my cat who dozes off almost every 20 minutes for almost 22 hours a day! We hardly think about why? Why are these catnaps so important that we can’t live without it? In this analysis, we will study the reason behind our yearn to sleep with a relaxing and eye-opening observation. Well, more like an eye-closing observation.
The Stages of Sleep
There are 5 stages of sleep.
The first stage is when you feel like you aren’t really sleeping at all. In this stage, your blinking slows down and you feel slightly drowsy. This starts around 10-30 minutes after you fall asleep.
The second stage gets a little more interesting. Here, your brain tells your muscles to relax and starts to ignore noises like cars and cicadas or crickets. Your heart slows and your body temperature drops a little. During this time, your brain revises everything you’ve learnt today and processes it. If you’re taking a power-nap, this is the ideal stage because it gives you faster productivity, a clearer mind, more creativity, enhanced memory and boosts your energy a little! You also enter stage 2 in between 10-30 minutes of falling asleep.
Stage 3 is what you can consider deep slumber and is also called slow-wave sleep. Your blood pressure drops and this is you feel “sleep inertia” when you wake up. Sleep inertia is like when you wake up and you feel drowsy immediately want to catch some ‘Zs again. If you sleepwalk or sleeptalk, this is the stage you might start doing it. If it is a little hot or a bit cold in the room, you won’t notice it because your body isn’t as sensitive to temperature as before. You enter stage 3 beyond 30 minutes of shut-eye.
Stage four is the deepest stage of sleep and is also a slow-wave sleep. Your eyes and muscles don’t move in stage 4. It is hard to directly wake up from this stage but if you do, you will be dazed or at least a few seconds.
Stage 5 or R.E.M stands for rapid-eye-movement. Your eyes move back and forth quickly underneath your eyelids while your body is relaxed. Your breathing becomes irregular and your heart speeds up a bit. Sounds a bit creepy? Well, it isn’t because R.E.M is the stage where you dream! Surprisingly, your body repeats stages 2, 3, 4 and R.E.M every hour and a half until you wake up.
The Snooze Button
The snooze button is one of man’s best creations. Until the dreaded happens, it rings again! If you are taking a power nap, this isn’t a good thing because you are wasting your body’s energy. Let’s say you draw a circle and it has 4 quadrants. This is the sleep cycle. The first is called “awake” because, well it’s self-explanatory. The next 3 are sleep. In this time, you experience the stages of sleep but a tiny sliver of the end of the sleep cycle is when your body wakes up. So essentially, your body wakes up before you. When you lazily hit the snooze button you are forcing your body to go back into sleep inertia. Is it still the best idea to hit it now?
How to get the best out of your power nap?
Rule 1- Who?
Power naps aren’t always the solution. If sleeping at night is hard for you, perhaps don’t try this because it will be just as hard and you won’t get much out of it. Instead, try just relaxing your eyes and taking a break from whatever you’re doing.
Rule 2- What?
Here are a few things you should when taking a power nap. Have all devices turned off and kept out of reach. Don’t always use caffeine throughout the day but try to doze instead. It could do you wonders!
Rule 3- When?
Don’t go napping whenever you like. Time it so your nap doesn’t affect your sleep schedule and just in time for your work. The best time to nap is about half an hour to an hour after lunch. Post 3 pm naps may affect your sleep at night.
Rule 4- Where?
Make sure you are comfortable when you take a power nap. You could lie down on the couch or sofa, in a chair, or on your bed.
Rule 5- How?
You have to watch how long you doze off. Too long and you won’t get the proper benefits, too short and you won’t either. Keep it around 30 minutes so you can go through the stages and come out rejuvenated. In reality, what you are trying to achieve is stage 1 and 2 sleep and this takes about 40-45 minutes in total. use a timer initially to get you to the cycle. Once practised you will naturally wake up from the nap without fatigue.
Why can I talk about sleep endlessly?
I enjoy sleep cycles. When Mum feels I sleep more than I ought to, I call it research. I’m so caught up in sleep inertia that I can’t really get out of it. I believe if I sleep as much as my cat does, I will become extremely brainy, efficient and intuitive like her. Well, I’m not sure if that’s entirely true. What do you think? ( feel free to add your thoughts in comments). The research and write up here is based on my understanding of the sleep cycles and not a review from a medical source. So, if you experience sleep difficulties consult an expert.
During the time that I am awake, I manage to do some projects and art. Check out the posts I recently did:
Self-sustaining Terrarium( Well, I set up a new one).
Enjoy your holidays and don’t miss our posts as I will be coming up with more very soon. Follow us on Instagram for new updates – Click here