Siesta Sleep

Siesta sleep schedules are the most common of the polyphasic schedules, involving sleeping in two separate segments throughout the day – once at night, and a nap in the middle of the day. There are three distinct biphasic schedules, the ‘power siesta’ schedule which involves sleeping for 20 minutes in the middle of the day and between 5-6 hours at night (varies between invididuals), and the more common ‘long siest’ involving 4.5-5.5 hours at night and a 60-90 minute sleep during the day, and of course segmented sleep (which we won’t talk about in this article).

You can have a 1.5h nap

Both siesta schedules are commonly called a siesta. Both of these schedules can be seen in various cultures throughout the world – taking a siesta is a cultural right of the latinos and other tropical populations, is important to middle easteners, and is even a favorite of the Europeans (England, Germany, and Spain specifically). Romans had a regular siesta;
“it was considered to be a physical necessity rather than a luxury, but it is unlikely that they had a health policy that included this, as was the case in Islam.”

In regards to health, there is enough scientific data to say that this method of sleeping is better for your health, and leads to improved mood, decreased stress, increased alertness and productivity over a typical monophasic schedule. Likewise, both biphasic schedules have been shown in scientific studies to significantly aid in learning and cognitive functions. As an added bonus, in terms of the most waking time gained per nap taken, biphasic schedules are the most efficient.



Or a 20 minute nap!


There is nothing saying a 20 minute nap is better than a 90 minute sleep in the middle of the day. Napping for around 20 minutes is healthy. And sleeping for 90 minutes has lots of benefits, and are especially great for athletes. But also napping for 90 minutes, too late in the afternoon, can impact on night time sleep. So this is why we sleep within 7 hours of starting our day!

Scientists have long wondered if this sleepiness was caused by the midday meal, but although insulin change does seem to play a role in sleepiness, there is a large amount of evidence that biphasic sleep is much more natural than sleeping monophasically, and the midday energy drop is driven by our circadian rhythm far more than our eating habits. There are natural core temperature changes that are controlled by our circadian clocks which prepare our bodies for a sleep-like state.

A nap exaptation can be beneficial for a 20 minute power-siesta schedule, to regulate one’s ultradian rhythm, training oneself to nap efficiently. The 90 minute sleep schedule can take a few days or a week or two to get used to if you have no napping experience, but can be easier for some people. The longer you try to nap in the middle of the day (and if you do not drink caffeine) the easier it becomes to nap and the better quality it will become.

Some people are naturally 20 minute nappers, and other are naturally 90 minute nappers, whilst some people are both. If one schedule is not working for you then your sleep architecture may not allow for 20 minute naps, considering SWS is homeostatic and your body may try to claim extra in your midday sleep.Some of the benefits of napping in the middle of the day are:

Naps can increase Growth Hormone Secretion. Growth Hormone Secretion helps to maintain normal body structure and metabolism, including helping to keep blood glucose levels stable.

Naps can promote wakefulness and enhances performance and learning ability. 

Naps early in the day do not negatively impact on night time sleep.


41 comments on “Siesta Sleep”

    • Alireza Reply

      Hi.I’m iraniam .siesta sleep is good for health. It’s very important. Ya Ali .good luck my friend

  1. Belinda Reply

    If only I could make this work with my job! We only get a 30 minute break in the middle of our shift.

  2. Fernanda Reply

    As a Mexican I am extremely happy to learn this sort of things, I actually do it and thought it was weird but now I can actually justify my siesta 😉

  3. Delilah Reply

    How much flexibility does this sleep pattern have? Does oversleeping on the weekends have a big impact on your sleep schedule or is it no big deal? And my core sleep is 1.30am – 7.30am, what should I do when I go to sleep later like around 3pm? Still wake up at 7.30 and do my 20 minute nap or wake up after 6 hours of sleep? Or should I wake up at 7.30 and nap for 90 minutes?

    • Hebince Reply

      Rule number one for polyphasic sleepers: don’t stray from the schedule. Especially if you’re in the adaptation period.

  4. Jonathan Austen Reply

    I always try to have a siesta and live in the UK.
    I nap for around 45 minutes. Not sure why this article says it must be either 20 minutes or 90 minutes, surely somewhere between the two, depending on what suits you? I fall into a proper sleep and wake up feeling refreshed, happier and ready for the rest of the day.

    • Duncan Gans Reply

      Actually, the article is pretty correct. If you take a nap longer than 30 minutes then you’ll likely fall into deep sleep. While not necessarily a bad thing, if you don’t fully finish your deep sleep period, then you’ll wake up and be more tired. However, ninety minutes is about the average sleep cycle, so by sleeping for ninety minutes you are getting deep sleep, but not waking up in the middle of deep sleep. 20 minute naps are ok to because you never go into deep sleep.

  5. Brian Reply

    For a 9 to 5 job, would siestas be too late at 5:30 like when we get home? I wake up just before 8 and it seems like napping should be done around 3. There’s nowhere to lie down at work it seems. Even when I get 5 hours, I can’t stay asleep for 20 minutes in my naps. I can probably get a fragmented 5 minutes in half hour. I have insomnia.

    • Carlos G. Reply

      As mentioned by the author, a siesta taken too late can impact on your night sleep badly. If you can’t take the siesta near midday, maybe a dual core sleep is more appropriate for you.

  6. Alec Reply

    The twenty minutes and ninety minute calculations are for actually being asleep, correct? So if It takes me around 10 minutes to fall asleep, I should set an alarm for 100 minutes from when I begin to lay down, correct?

    • Carlos G. Reply

      No, your should follow schedule strictly. Taking too much time to fall asleep or to wake up is normal during your adaptation period that can last for even months, but if you keep trying to follow your schedule perfectly, like a robot, at some point your body will get used to it and you’ll be able to control when to sleep and wake up easily. Also if you stick to the same pattern for enough time you will not even need to set an alarm anymore.

  7. Ildem Reply

    The thing I didn’t understand is why we should either take a nap for 20 and sleep 5.5 max or take a nap for 90 and sleep 6 max? Can’t I take a nap for 20 and sleep 6 hours? I’m kinda confused and I want to learn and use these information so I’d be glad if someone helps.

    • Carlos G. Reply

      Each sleeping pattern is designed to never put you in a sleep deprivation condition and the amount of sleep needed is relative to the size of each awake phase and the previous sleeping phase, therefore if you distribute you sleep differently the minimum amount of total sleeping hours changes as well. This combined to the fact that having more sleep than you need not only gives less hours in your day but also can backfire in some cases making you fell more tired, makes me believe that each schedule have an ideal amount of total sleeping hours that should be respected if you want increase your chances of adaptation to that particular pattern.

  8. Night owl Reply

    I do this all the time. I sleep 4-6hrs a night and take a nap for 30-90mins. I have been living like this for god knows how long no ill effects. actually it feels very natural.

  9. Mary LeLoo Reply

    I have been naturally biphasic most of my life if my schedule allows. Right now I sleep from 11:00pm to 5:00 am. Then I come home from work and nap from 3:00pm to 4:30pm. It works for me.

  10. Molly Reply

    Can I alter the time in between naps from what’s shown above? I.e., could I sleep for 6 hours, then have a 90-minute nap 8 or 9 hours later? I’m in school, and I’m trying to account for the fact that I need time in the morning to get ready, then spend six hours in actual classes, and often stay late by about an hour or so for clubs.
    Basically, could I go to sleep at 1 AM, wake up at 7 AM, and nap from 4-5:30 PM?

  11. Chad Garber Reply

    The minimum is 20 while the maximum should be 90, anything in between depending on the person is acceptable if you’ve read this article correctly. The 3.5-6 hour core should have some weight on judging your nap later, but you do what feels best to you, and should take time to discover what works best. I feel a 4.5 hour core with a 30min nap later is more than enough for what I do. Currently, I’m switching back to siesta again, and remember what worked best for me the first time around. Remember, these aren’t exact requirements, but a guide as to how it best works keeping in mind that everyone is different. Play with it, see how little hours you need to sleep at first, increase your nap time if you have a short core time, and visa versa. Sometimes people sleep 4 hours with a 20min nap and it’s more than enough or 6 hours and 1.5 nap. In short, find what works best for you, and go from there.

    • Micheal Reply

      What would you recommend for someone with my work hours, 6:00am-2:30pm. I’m confused mainly on what to do about naps, by the time I get home and am ready for a nap, it would be probably 3pm. Isn’t that too late for a midday nap? Would that affect my nighttime core sleep?

  12. DualCore Reply

    Im trying to adapt to two cores one from 4am to 7:30am and 4:00pm to 7:30pm. This way ill wake up early but have time at night to study, socialize and stuff

  13. Anonymous Reply

    I sleep 12am – 06am and take a nap around 1pm. But what if I accidentally lost time and go to bed at 3am for example? Should I sleep till 9am or just wake up at 6am? And what about naps and probably sleep deprivation?

  14. Blanche Reply

    When I went to South Africa and Botswana last year, we had a siesta everyday around noon during the hottest hours of the day. I had never taken naps in the middle of the day before, but after several weeks, I found myself or more alert and mentally happy than I’ve ever been in my life before. I continued the habit when I got back to the States, and I feel overall more relaxed and less stressed then I used to.
    The schedule we used was a core sleep of 10 pm to 5 am and a 90 minute nap anywhere between 11:00 and 1:30.

  15. Joy Reply

    If I have to wake up at 5:30 a.m. every week day and don’t get home until 3-4 p.m. what time should I take my nap and what time should I have my larger chunk of sleep?

    • Carlos G. Reply

      Waking up from your main sleep within the sunrise is better (there’s your circadian rhythm and stuff) , but if I find myself having to do something that will prevent me from taking my siesta around noon for a while, I simply move my main sleep to another time. You could for example put your main sleep between 16 to 21 PM and your second sleep between 4 to 5:30 AM.

      Perhaps you happen to have social life unlike me, so off course it might not work for you. But since it was no big deal for me I think anyone in the same situation could try this solution as well.

  16. Alexander Reply

    Since I’m a freelance engineer I will try this now. I already noticed that I feel extremely focused very early in the morning, which is another reason to wake up at 5 am instead of 8 am and have siesta instead. I also workout in the morning every other day (~7 am), so this should be easy to adapt to (better than waking up and going to bed irregularly)

  17. Amir hossein aminian Reply

    Hi I am Amir hossein and I am Iranian I want to say at first Islam has noticed to this important point and Islam has a lot of advantages points about this subject and Islam has determined the exact time about siesta sleep if you want learn more about it you should check the Islamic books
    Have a pretty day

  18. Chris Erickson Reply

    I have a question. You mention several times that the nap is in the ‘middle of the day.’ Yet you also say the nap must start within 7 hours of waking up from the night core sleep. With my schedule, if I sleep 11 pm to 5 am, I would have to nap around 1 pm (which is 8 hours). This is because I’m busy from 7:50 am to 12:45 pm. Or would it be better to sleep 10 pm to 4 am, wake up for 3 hours, then nap from 7:10 to 7:30 am in the morning? It’s within 7 hours, in fact. it’s only 3 hours. You say it’s better to go to bed early, rise early, and nap early (4 am to 2 pm). However, this 20 minute nap is not in the middle of the day, it’s at 7 am. All of the siestas seem to be around noon. Which schedule would be better to do?

    Thanks so much! I’m looking forward to trying biphasic sleep! I love napping!

  19. Trevor Reply

    I was experimenting with segmented sleep during winter and initially enjoyed its benefits but as the days grow longer it is becoming increasingly impractical because of the difference in day and night temp, so I am going to try a siesta schedule to try and sleep through the hottest part of the day. Should I anticipate trouble with the transition? I figured it would feel somewhat natural because it matches the seasonal transition. I reverted back to 8 hour sleep for the past couple weeks and now its not working for me because its already hot when I wake up. I want to maximize time spent in cool weather when I actually want to do stuff.

    Has anyone ever tried a reverse siesta schedule, like sleep 90 hours during day and 5-6 hours during day? I would be interested to hear how that went…

  20. Kitty Reply

    Hello Polyphasic sleepers! 🙂
    I have a question.. I Sleep from 3.30am till 8.30am, so I placed my nap at 2am (that’s the best time to nap according to the napwheel). So when I wake up I clean the house and then I have to work till 14pm. But what if I suddenly have to work overtime till 4pm? Should I just ignore the 7hrs rule and nap after 4pm? Any ideas?
    Thanks anyways 🙂

  21. Catnap Reply

    I always wake up by myself after about 5h30 core sleep, and if I don’t wake up by myself, then my alarm wakes me up after 5h30 sleep because I’m in my light sleep (I use a smart alarm).
    I have the feeling my sleepcycle are a bit shorter than 1h30.
    So i sleep from 2:00am – 7:30am and feel rested when I wake up
    Is this enough to do just a 20min nap or should I take a 90min nap?

  22. Catnap Reply

    I wake up naturally after 5h30 core sleep, and if not, then my alarm wakes me up because I’m in my light sleep (I use a sleeptracking app). I also have the idea my sleepcycles are shorter than 1h30 and I think that’s the reason I wake up after 5h30 core sleep feeling rested.
    So this is my schedule:
    3.00am – 8.30am
    3.00pm – 3.20pm
    Is this enough sleep? Or should I take a 90min nap instead of 20min?

  23. Michal Reply

    I am currently experimenting with core sleep 02-07am with a nap after work 18-19:30 This seems to be the most efficient way to be more productive and get some extra work done at night while my partner is already sleeping.. It has been just two days so far, I had a great nap last evening and good core sleep later on but feel quite tired today and not as sharp as I would like to.. but will see

  24. Red Deer DJ Reply

    What to do if you’ve been sleeping at the wrong times for a long period of time and trying to get back to your regular schedule like before?
    I find it almost impossible to fall asleep on the right time since ive been doing so way late for a long time.

  25. Brian Koler Reply

    What to do if you’ve been sleeping at the wrong times for a long period of time and trying to get back to your regular schedule like before?
    I find it almost impossible to fall asleep on the right time since ive been doing so way late for a long time.

  26. Nikhil Chandra Reply

    Hello, I am transitioning to a short siesta sleep cycle. I come back from school at 4:10, and was wondering how this looks.

    Core: 1 – 7 a.m.
    Nap: 4:10 – 4:30 p.m

    How does this sound

  27. Corey Butzer Reply

    I use siesta sleep to recover my muscles each day. As an athlete this is huge in builidng muscle and performing my best!

  28. Chris Reply

    I use siesta sleep to recover my muscles each day. As an athlete this is huge in builidng muscle and performing my best!

  29. Audrey Smith-Rowland Reply

    What about taking a siesta more than 7 hours after starting your day, but still within midday hours? I have to wake up for work at 4:15am. I work full time and cannot nap just 7 hours later at 11:15. I’m mostly guaranteed to be home by 1:00pm, which I would certainly still consider midday.

  30. Chris Reply

    I think a lot of people think that someone who naps is lazy! Im glad I found this article to justify why I need a nap to be more productive. A 20 minute post lunch siesta usually gives me the most energy for the rest of the day. I tried not eating carbs at lunch or eating small meals throughout the day instead of one big lunch but nothing seemed to help my avoid that post-lunch slump.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *