Time is our most precious resource. There's no way of getting it back once it's gone and no matter how hard you try, even the best planning can't protect your future. With so much to do, it seems counter-intuitive to give what little time we have to sleeping. However, by prioritizing sleep we gain more years of life, improved quality of life, increased productivity per hour AND we look better doing it.
So sleep is great BUT what's the best way to approach this... is there any point to trying to sleep even if you know you won't be sleeping for very long (like before an early morning flight) or if you know your sleep is guaranteed to be interrupted (like when you get a new puppy that needs to pee every 3 hours)?
The answer is YES. And there are two ways to achieve this: 1) You can use the infamous power nap or 2) you can try and fit in as many complete sleep cycles as possible into the time you do have to sleep. We weigh up the pros and cons of each of these sleep strategies below.
Benefits of a power nap (10 - 30 minutes of light sleep)
- Improved mood
- Increased alertness and prevents mistakes and accidents
- Better logic and memory
- Decreased sleepiness
- Able to complete tasks faster
Disadvantages of power nap
- Sleep inertia or grogginess if nap exceeds 30 minutes
- Requires practice to fall asleep during daylight hours and in strange locations
Benefits of waking after a complete sleep cycle (90 minutes of continuous sleep that includes the various sleep phases)
- Production of feel-good hormones dopamine and seretonin
- Regulation of emotion and memory
- No sleep inertia if woken at end of cycle
- REM sleep allows you to dream
Disadvantages of completing a sleep cycle
- Requires 90 minutes of uninterrupted sleep
- Must have ideal sleep environment
- May need to use an App to ensure you wake at end of the sleep cycle
The choice is yours. Both sleep strategies require some practice to execute successfully. Train your brain so that it starts to anticipate a nap at the same time each day or try and set up a regular bed and wake time so you can work out your sleep cycles no sweat.