• There's more science to the nap than anyone would have expected. (SBS)Source: SBS
'Going Deep with David Rees' provides all the info you need to nap effectively.
Evan Valletta

15 May 2018 - 11:37 AM  UPDATED 15 May 2018 - 11:37 AM

Last season on Going Deep, host David Rees took a list of seemingly innocuous daily actions and turned them into infotainment gold. From tying shoelaces to flipping a coin, the silver-haired humourist blew wide open everything we thought we knew about the mundane.

As season two continues this week, Rees places his signature microscope over your standard, everyday nap, asking how to properly take one and whether or not they serve any greater purpose.


Breaking down sleep

Sleep can be broken up into four separate stages. Stage one is that period of half-sleep usually accompanied by heavy lids and a head-droop. Stage two is a transitional stage of sleep that helps us maintain our motor skills.

Stage three, or “slow-wave” sleep, is where we replay all our waking happenings since we last slept and commit them to memory. In other words, this stage helps us retain new information. 

Stage four, or “REM sleep”, is where your new memories are integrated with your entire psyche. This is a stage of boundless creativity, where anything and everything goes.


Different nap lengths serve different purposes

If all you want to do is refresh your attention, a 20-minute nap (also known as a “power nap”) is sufficient. If you want to start processing memories (say, you’re cramming for a test), then best to nap for 45 minutes to an hour.

If you want to achieve distance from the everyday and get a creative burst, you want to move in and out of REM sleep, which means your nap should last for roughly 90 minutes.


Meet the woman who lives on naps

Curiously, it’s only been over the last few hundred years that humans have slept in large, nightly blocks. Before the industrial revolution, napping was the natural method of catching shut-eye, and some humans, known as “polyphasic sleepers”, still adhere to and swear by a piecemeal sleeping regiment.

Marie, whom Rees meets, is one such human. Instead of staying awake all day and sleeping for eight hours overnight, she breaks up her rest time into a series of naps, and feels as if this is the best method to remain refreshed and engaged. 


Napping no-nos 

One of the worst things a napper can do is to attribute negative thoughts to the idea of taking a nap. If you consider napping lazy or counter-productive, chances are you’ll wake up from one in a worse mood than before. The only way you’ll ever benefit from napping is if you view it a positive light.

While it might sound counter-intuitive, planning is also integral if you want to successfully take a nap. You should schedule it halfway between the time you wake up in the morning and the time you go to bed at night, and should predetermine what kind of nap you’d like to take. In other words, decide its duration before settling down. Environmental factors such as room temperature and amount of light should both be taken into consideration.


That’s only the half of it. For more napping tips and tricks, watch Going Deep with David Rees on Tuesday 15 May at 8pm on SBS VICELAND.

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