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.

 

July 20th, 2012 by

15 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.

  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?

  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.

  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.

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