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What’s the difference between napping and sleeping?

Apart from getting eight hours of sleep every night, some people like to take short naps during the day to remain fresh and active. So what is the difference between nap and sleep, and why do so many of us enjoy that short afternoon siesta?

The key difference between napping vs sleeping is the timing.

Naps are short and meant to give you a bit of rest, while sleep lasts for several hours and is meant to reset your body and mind. While naps are best enjoyed during the day (especially in the afternoons), sleep is always enjoyed best during the night time. Both activities offer your body different benefits, so let’s go over the main differences between sleeping and napping.

What is the difference between a nap and sleep?

Apart from getting eight hours of sleep every night, some people like to take short naps during the day to remain fresh and active. So what is the difference between nap and sleep, and why do so many of us enjoy that short afternoon siesta?

The key difference between napping vs sleeping is the timing.

Naps are short and meant to give you a bit of rest, while sleep lasts for several hours and is meant to reset your body and mind. While naps are best enjoyed during the day (especially in the afternoons), sleep is always enjoyed best during the night time. Both activities offer your body different benefits, so let’s go over the main differences between sleeping and napping.

What is a nap?

Simply put, a nap is a short amount of sleep that’s generally experienced during the day. There are different types of naps you can enjoy, such as:

Recovery naps:

If you’ve pulled an all-nighter, a recovery nap helps you catch up on all your lost sleep.

Prophylactic naps:

If you’re anticipating an all-nighter, you can prepare for the sleep loss by taking a prophylactic nap in advance.

Appetitive naps:

Appetitive naps are taken for the enjoyment of napping. Often considered a respite, this kind of nap can help you feel more rested and alert.

Essential naps:

This type of nap occurs on the days you feel totally under the weather. Extra rest is essential for your body when you’re sick because your body is dedicating all its energy to your immune system.

Power naps:

This type of nap lasts between 10 and 20 minutes, and is essentially a form of quick rest for your brain.

Napping is not entirely bad. Taking naps during the day has been associated with enhancing your ability to remember freshly-learned information – this phenomenon is known as memory encoding and consolidation (1).

Naps help you feel more awake and alert during the day, which leads to enhanced cognitive performance (2). They also reduce your stress and improve your overall mood (3).

What is sleep?

Sleep is an extended state of rest, wherein the body is physically inactive but the brain and internal organs are working hard to prepare you for the next day.

There are four stages of sleep that occur throughout the night in repeated cycles, but they can be broadly classified into two types of sleep: rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep.

Stage 1: Lasts for about 10 minutes per sleep cycle. Consists of an NREM sleep stage where your body transitions from wakefulness to sleep.

Stage 2: Lasts about 20 minutes. This is an NREM phase, during which your body temperature drops in preparation for deep sleep. During this time, your brain produces brain waves called sleep spindles, a feature of memory consolidation (4).

Stage 3: Also known as delta sleep, the third NREM stage sees you progressing into your deepest sleep. Your muscles relax, your heartbeat slows down, and your body undergoes physical reparation. (5)

Stage 4: Begins 90 minutes after you fall asleep. This final stage is known as REM sleep. It is characterised by low volume and mixed frequency brain wave activity (6). You usually dream in this stage and your body is physically immobilised, ensuring that you don’t act out your dreams.

Napping vs Sleeping

While sleeping and napping do overlap, they should be treated as two different processes. There is a world of a difference between a nap and sleep, the most important one being duration. While we all require a minimum of 6 to 8 hours of sleep per night, a nap is not essential for everyone and should be either 20 or 90 minutes long (7).

Because of the difference in duration, another key difference in the napping vs sleeping debate is the number of sleep cycles you experience. The best nap length for an adult is either 20 or 90 minutes long, wherein you either experience only the first two stages of sleep or you complete one full sleep cycle.

If you want a quick refresh, shorter 20-minute power naps are ideal. It is better to take 90-minute naps during the day if you need to take a recovery or prophylactic nap. Avoid napping for more than 90 minutes, as this can disrupt your night sleep cycle.

However, several people find it difficult to fall asleep, or are unable to stay asleep. If you suffer from sleep issues, you can fix your snooze cycle with the help of melatonin products. Melatonin is a sleep hormone that naturally occurs in your body. Setu has a wide range of melatonin products to help you fix your sleep cycle.

For people who struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep, Setu’s Sleep: Sustain is the perfect solution. Containing 5 mg of immediate-release (IR) melatonin and 5 mg of sustained-release (SR) melatonin, these capsules help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep all night. While the IR melatonin kicks in immediately to help you fall asleep, the SR melatonin kicks in a few hours later, ensuring that you stay asleep all night.

If you need help relaxing before sleeping, Setu’s Sleep: Restore Magic Mints are your best bet. These refreshing mints contain melatonin, which helps you develop and sustain a healthy sleep cycle. The minty capsules also contain Jatamansi extract, a plant-based extract that has a relaxing effect on your body.

FAQs

1) What is the best time to nap?

It is advisable to nap in the first half of the day, ideally early to mid-afternoon before 5pm. It is also best to nap for either 20 minutes or 90 minutes, so that your nap does not disrupt your nightly sleep. Late-evening naps should be avoided at all costs.

2) Are sleep supplements safe?

Sleep supplements are perfectly safe to consume in the right quantities. As with anything, it is best to consume sleep supplements in moderation.

3) When should I consume sleep supplements?

Setu’s sleep supplements in tablet and capsule form should be consumed 1-2 hours before sleeping. Our orally-dissolving strips can be taken 30-60 minutes before bedtime.

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