In Hong Kong, a lot of people are big nappers for weekends, if they have time. But if you’re getting enough sleep at night, you actually don’t need a nap during the day. The first rule of a nap is to keep it short or meditate if you’re feeling restless. Because if you nap for too long, you feel awful. And if you can’t nap but want to, you will feel awful. So meditation until you fall asleep helps for a much needed day-time nap.
The second rule, is that timing is important. The time in which you nap will determine what sleep stage you get. If you have a nap in Stage 2 sleep, you will wake up more alert. If you have a nap with rapid eye movement (REM), you get increased creativity. If you nap at 9 to 11am, then you will likely get REM in your nap. To get to Stage 3 to 4, you’ll want to target a nap between 2:30 to 5:30pm.
However, the perfect nap is between 1 to 3pm. That is similar to siestas in Spain. Because there’s a biological reason – our bodies want to nap between 1 to 3pm as we physically experience lower core temperatures at that time, in our body. That releases melatonin so we feel sleepy.
What are some others hacks for sleep?
- Bedside hacks: Sometimes we think we have the most amazing ideas right when we’re about to sleep. So keep a paper notebook on your bedside, or your phone to record a voice memo. Avoid being too active in getting up and walking around after you’ve already rested in bed.
- Taking a power nap: If you are sleep deprived, and you have no choice but to keep chugging, working, or breastfeeding, then you need a hack. Here goes: prepare and drink a cup of iced, black coffee. Then immediately take a 25 minute nap. During the nap, the caffeine will sneak in and when you wake up, the caffeine will take effect so you’ll feel aware for a good 4 hours.
- Timing in caffeine: Many people don’t know this but caffeine has a half-life of 6 to 8 hours. That means, for great sleep quality, don’t have caffeine after 2pm. That would put you in a safe zone by 10pm.
- Get active: The single best way to improve the quality of your sleep is through doing a physical activity.
- Consistency: Just keep your bed time consistent. This helps you in longevity as well. If you need to go to bed later, or if you travel, when you have a consistent bed time, you will be affected less. Also, you need less sleep if you keep your bed time consistent.
- Cold room: if you body’s core temperature can’t drop, you can’t have an optimum amount of melatonin. So keeping a cool room is best so that your core temperature can drop, and you can get that high quality of sleep.
WHAT ARE SOME HACKS TO WAKE UP?
- Avoid breakfast caffeine: Caffeine as the first thing entering your body is not a great idea. Because each night, you wake up dehydrated due to the water loss through breathing. Caffeine is a diuretic, so it’s best to wait 90 minutes after waking up before you have your first cuppa. Just have a glass of water when you start the day because your body hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) will be more powerful to keep you sleepy than caffeine is to wake you up.
- Get sunlight: Go to your window and get sunlight. This might sound silly but light turns off the melatonin supply during the day. So getting sunlight will wake you up.
WHAT TO DO AT NIGHT TO FALL ASLEEP
- Avoid sports: For some people, exercise can excite you. So stop exercising 4 hours before bed, giving your body a chance to relax and calm down.
- Enjoy a ritual of winding down: Spend at least 30 minutes winding down before bed. Great sleep quality is not on demand because there’s a process that needs to occur. So 30 minutes before bed, take 10 minutes to prepare for chores you need to do, or tasks you need to prepare for. Then 10 minutes of toilet time. Then 10 to 20 minutes of meditation. But this is a time of quiet reflection and to settle down. So you can easily coast into that sleepy state