Whilst more than 85% of mammals are polyphasic (they sleep throughout the day in various short periods), we, human beings, are monophasic sleepers, i.e. our day is divided into two parts: in the first one we sleep and in another one we remain fully awake.
That is the theory. In practice, there is a word called “nap”. Does it sound familiar to you? A habit that puts on doubt all this theory of monophasic sleep.
Do you know where this custom comes from?
This word has its origin from the Roman sixth hour, corresponding to the twelfth hour of midday with respect the sun, i.e. around 14:00. As being the time of most heat of the day, the monks took a break from their daily work to rest and regain strength.
Thus this term originated from “sextear” o “hacer la sexta”, which led to the popular “sestear” o “hacer la siesta” (which means “take a nap” in Spanish).
Although for many it is a synonym of “laziness”. A good nap can help as to recover the energy we lose during the morning and depending on its duration, it can bring us many benefits
We can distinguish 5 types of naps:
- Brief nap
As its name indicates, this nap lasts no more than 20 minutes. It is suitable for people who have to return to work and need to clear their mind and body from stress to recover the energy lost during the morning. In this nap the second part of sleep cannot be reached which is perfect for improving the memory. This requires a quick sleep.
- NASA nap
It is called like this because it has been studied and approved by NASA scientists to improve productivity and alertness of pilots. It lasts only 26 minutes and it is perfect for those days in which you have to do extra hours at work.
- Tricky nap
You should be careful with this nap, because it lasts for 30 minutes after which we fall into deep sleep. It is recommended to take this nap 6 hours after getting up because this is when your heart rate decreases and sleepiness increases. You will achieve sleep level no. two and you will wake up with a clear head. Others consider this nap as a bad one, because you run the risk of falling in a deep sleep and wake up with a sort of “sleep hangover” which makes you feel more tired than refreshed. That’s why it is recommended set up an alarm to 30 minutes.
- Complete nap
It lasts more than 30 minutes, even though it is advised to take a rest up to 60 minutes to reach all the levels of sleep. It is very effective when one feels very sleepy or wants to recover the jet-lag caused by time difference of an intercontinental flight.
Moreover, this nap is very good for processing the cognitive memory and allowing the recollection of data, places and facts. It is recommended to take this nap before an oral speech or a presentation.
- Repairing nap
This nap lasts no less than 90 minutes, being considered as the queen of naps. You’ll achieve a complete cycle of sleep. You’ll be able to wake up rested, with a sensation similar to how you feel in the morning. It is demonstrated that sleeping during this time generates great cognitive benefits. It is great for the stimulation of creativity, strengthen emotional and memory processes. It is perfect for performance improvement before an exam or an important test.
We make these pauses to disconnect and replenish energy which we need to keep being active during the rest of the day. Even though, we must not forget that a nap is a complement and should not be used to substitute the hours of sleep our body needs to recover during night time (at the end of the day we are all monophasic sleepers).