Polyphasic Sleep

Siesta Sleep

By The Botany Of Solis

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 individuals), and the more common ‘long siesta’ 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 are important to middle easterners and are even a favorite of the Europeans (EnglandGermany, 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 is 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 nighttime 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 others 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 nighttime sleep.

Comments (41)

  1. I think a lot of people think that someone who naps is lazy! Im glad I found this article to justify why I need a nap to be more productive. A 20 minute post lunch siesta usually gives me the most energy for the rest of the day. I tried not eating carbs at lunch or eating small meals throughout the day instead of one big lunch but nothing seemed to help my avoid that post-lunch slump.

  2. What about taking a siesta more than 7 hours after starting your day, but still within midday hours? I have to wake up for work at 4:15am. I work full time and cannot nap just 7 hours later at 11:15. I’m mostly guaranteed to be home by 1:00pm, which I would certainly still consider midday.

  3. I use siesta sleep to recover my muscles each day. As an athlete this is huge in builidng muscle and performing my best!

  4. Hello, I am transitioning to a short siesta sleep cycle. I come back from school at 4:10, and was wondering how this looks.

    Core: 1 – 7 a.m.
    Nap: 4:10 – 4:30 p.m

    How does this sound

  5. What to do if you’ve been sleeping at the wrong times for a long period of time and trying to get back to your regular schedule like before?
    I find it almost impossible to fall asleep on the right time since ive been doing so way late for a long time.

  6. What to do if you’ve been sleeping at the wrong times for a long period of time and trying to get back to your regular schedule like before?
    I find it almost impossible to fall asleep on the right time since ive been doing so way late for a long time.

  7. I am currently experimenting with core sleep 02-07am with a nap after work 18-19:30 This seems to be the most efficient way to be more productive and get some extra work done at night while my partner is already sleeping.. It has been just two days so far, I had a great nap last evening and good core sleep later on but feel quite tired today and not as sharp as I would like to.. but will see

  8. I wake up naturally after 5h30 core sleep, and if not, then my alarm wakes me up because I’m in my light sleep (I use a sleeptracking app). I also have the idea my sleepcycles are shorter than 1h30 and I think that’s the reason I wake up after 5h30 core sleep feeling rested.
    So this is my schedule:
    3.00am – 8.30am
    3.00pm – 3.20pm
    Is this enough sleep? Or should I take a 90min nap instead of 20min?

  9. I always wake up by myself after about 5h30 core sleep, and if I don’t wake up by myself, then my alarm wakes me up after 5h30 sleep because I’m in my light sleep (I use a smart alarm).
    I have the feeling my sleepcycle are a bit shorter than 1h30.
    So i sleep from 2:00am – 7:30am and feel rested when I wake up
    Is this enough to do just a 20min nap or should I take a 90min nap?

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