CityLux Senior Therapist Patricia has written new article on how to sleep well and nap effectively.
If you are a keen reader and you have read my previous article about meditation (and of course you tried it) you know I gave you a very powerful tool that could change your life. You are very lucky as today I am going to give you another powerful tool that can make your life more effective…. Naps!
We all have them and we all need them from time to time. But have you ever wondered why sometimes after a nap you feel more tired than before although you slept proper one or two hours? And the other time it was only half an hour and you feel great? Does it sometimes happen that in the morning when the alarm goes you barely can open your eyes and the other day you are jumping off the bed straight away even though both days you slept the same amount of time?
I am going to explain to you the reasons behind that
I won’t get into details of how many hours of night sleep you should have. Most sources recommend 7-8 hours however I believe it is an individual thing and sometimes just 5-6 hours is enough (and maybe a nap during the day). I will leave it to you to figure it out what works best for you. However, doing the research for this article I came across a very interesting piece of information. Apparently, majority of mammals have few short sleeping periods throughout 24hours time but humans are exception – we decided to have one long period at night although our nature is to sleep few hours at night (around 1am -4am) and then few hours in the afternoon. That would explain why we need afternoon nap or siesta. Usually we blame it on feeling sleepy after big lunch but even after a light meal we experience drop of energy in the afternoon.
Ok, let’s understand the phases of the sleep.
STAGE 1 is light sleep where you drift in and out of sleep and can be awakened easily. In this stage, the eyes move slowly and muscle activity slows. During this stage, many people experience sudden muscle contractions preceded by a sensation of falling.
STAGE 2 is onset of sleep when you are becoming disengaged from surroundings. Eye movement stops and brain waves become slower with only an occasional burst of rapid brain waves.
STAGE 3 is referred to as deep sleep or delta sleep, and it is very difficult to wake someone from it. In deep sleep, there is no eye movement or muscle activity. This stage is the deepest and most restorative sleep where blood pressure drops, breathing becomes slower, muscles are relaxed and tissue growth and repair occurs
REM rapid eye movements(25% of night) first occurs about 90 minutes after falling asleep and recurs about every 90 minutes, getting longer later in the night It provides energy to brain and body, supports daytime performance, brain is active and dreams occur and eyes dart back and forth.
So sleep progresses in a series of cycles – from stage 1, into deeper stages 2 and 3, then REM and back from the start. The first sleep cycle is typically around 90 minutes in length, with the succeeding cycles averaging around 100-120 minutes.
Knowing those cycles will help you to design your nap.
A short afternoon catnap of 20 minutes yields mostly Stage 2 sleep, which enhances alertness and concentration, elevates mood, and sharpens motor skills. To boost alertness on waking, you can drink a cup of coffee before you nap. Caffeine requires 20 or 30 minutes to take effect, so it will kick in just as you’re waking.
Limit your nap to 45 minutes or less, if you need to spring into action after dozing. Otherwise, you may drift into slow-wave sleep. Waking from this stage results in sleep inertia, that grogginess and disorientation that can last for half an hour or more.
But you might want to take a long nap, at least 90 minutes. Many of us get about an hour to an hour-and-a-half less sleep a night than we need.
Naps of 90 to 120 minutes usually comprise all stages, including REM and deep slow-wave sleep, which helps to clear your mind, improve memory recall, and recoup lost sleep. Longer naps in the morning yield more REM sleep, while those in the afternoon offer more slow-wave sleep. A nap that is long enough to include a full sleep cycle, at least 90 minutes, will limit sleep inertia by allowing you to wake from REM sleep.
Now you understand why you may feel tired and grumpy after your nap – you simply drifted to deep sleep phase. Therefore I wouldn’t recommend being spontaneous with your naps. Use alarm to wake you up after desired time – aim for short naps or full sleeping cycles. That means less than 30 minutes or longer than 90 minutes.
And now you also understand that ideally in the morning you should wake up just after REM stage or when you are back to the phase 1 of light sleep. But of course it is not as easy to control.
It is easy to have a nap when you are sleepy. But what if you are not? What if you have a long day and night ahead of you, you need a lot of energy and you suspect you will be tired at some point in the early evening. Now you have some spare time for a nap. If only you were sleepy….
There are some tools that can put you to sleep anyway.
My favorite is this one:
Put the track on, lie down, close your eyes and just listen. Almost every time I fall asleep and I don’t even need an alarm as I wake up naturally when the track finishes. And it also has a perfect length of 20 something minutes which means you wake up energised. Not to mention the profits of positive affirmations and subconscious programming in the video.
There are many other methods that you could use. I encourage you to explore them on your own and experience on your own skin what works best for you. I may only point you into few directions: