Join almost 1 million
monthly
readers!

Contact Me

Coaching and Consultation

Language Hacking League!

Join over 50,000 people to get FREE weekly language hacking tips, cool links, site updates & two free chapters of the Language Hacking Guide!

No Spam. Not ever.

Current Mission:


On book tour to encourage people to learn languages better! Learn more!

Previous post:

Next post:

Siestas for better focus, more time, instant jet-lag/party recovery, and a healthier life

| 75 comments | Category: off topic

I had a 12 hour layover in Mexico city once, so of course, I had a siesta while there!

Siestas are short naps taken in the afternoon, usually after eating, that tend to be associated with some Latin (especially Spanish-speaking) cultures. Those unfamiliar with them might associate them with laziness, or a lifestyle totally incompatible with their own. Nothing could be further from the truth.

If anything, people who take “power naps” are way more efficient, smarter and healthier, and yes you can do it too. Siestas will energise you, and make a significant reduction in the amount of sleep you need at night time, thus giving you way more time every day.

Not just for Spaniards/Mexicans

When I shared a typical day for me here in Colombia, a few people commented on the fact that I had a siesta. Siestas are not actually much of a part of Colombian culture, especially when you compare it to Spain or Mexico.

In fact, ever since I started travelling (my first real immersion abroad in Spain having influenced me), I have had a siesta in every country I’ve been in. As you can see in the photo, even when I passed through Mexico for just 12 hours, I still made a point to have one!

I’ve also had siestas in the winter in Poland, France, Germany, Ireland and the UK so it has nothing to do with lazy warm summer afternoons either.

But I’ve got a job! I don’t have time for this!

Of course, it’s easier to do this in Spain when the working day actually revolves around it; the work day in Spain ends much later than in other countries because they have a break of a few hours during the day, even in major cities.

And you might even think that then it’s only possible for people who work their own hours – the last few years I’ve worked as a freelance translator and now a pro-language hacker, and working for myself gives me complete freedom to choose my own hours, so of course I can be more flexible to allow myself siesta time. However, most of my travels have involved jobs where I worked for others and only had one hour lunchbreak and I still made it happen.

I took the first half an hour to eat and spend time with co-workers, and the second half an hour to go to a quiet place (or if I was in a city, somewhere safe and just use earplugs & an eye-mask) and nap for 15-20 minutes. When I returned to work I was always completely energised and did my best work in the afternoons, while co-workers would groggily struggle for the first hour or two.

Finding these places to actually rest in wasn’t hard at all. In Italy there was a nice park close to where I worked and I would lean against a tree there, and in France I convinced a shop-owner I became friendly with to let me go inside to his office, since I was too far to travel home. I don’t care where you work, there is always a place you can hide away for 20 minutes.

Your body’s natural rhythm

When people immediately object and say that they could never do it, I like to remind them to take a hard look at their 8-hour-nightly-pattern and ask themselves why that would be “natural” for society in the first place? This 9-5 lifestyle and one-uninterrupted-sleep-session is actually unnatural for your body. It is likely actually a by-product of the industrial revolution and is only really useful from the factory’s perspective.

Before this, the vast majority of people would have worked on the land. Without a particular timetable to follow, they could take their breaks when their body told them to, rather than when their boss said so. It doesn’t mean they worked “less”, just that they worked when they were at their best. Something we do way less of in the 21st century!

You see, after eating lunch, a lot of blood goes to your stomach to help you digest your food. This means that less blood is going to your brain – and it results in the afternoon lull that pretty much everyone feels around 2-3pm. Some people just put up with it and will be less focused and less efficient in the early afternoon, and others will drug themselves up with caffeine to try to get over it.

Your body is actually screaming for just a little lie-down so you can digest what is (usually) the main meal of the day, just like pretty much all other mammals do! When you answer that call, even for just 20 minutes you will feel completely energised. After my siestas I feel like a new man; I compare the feeling to what an adrenaline injection must feel like. Coffee could never compare, and that’s why I very rarely even drink it.

Too many people have an unhealthy reliance on coffee to be alert, and afternoon naps can alleviate that. Ideally you’d cut coffee out of your routine if you want siestas to work.

Huge savings in time

It took me about 2 weeks of an investment to get used to siestas, but that has paid off in so many extra hours and much more enjoyable afternoons over the years and for the rest of my life.

When you have a 20 minute power nap, it does not actually mean that you just save those 20 minutes off the night time – you can actually save several hours each day.

A more extreme version of using napping to save time is known as polyphasic sleep (siestas being “biphasic”). When done efficiently enough, applying Uberman’s sleep schedule, you can get by very well on just two hours of sleep a day. I have successfully tried this myself. When people hear this, they immediately claim how impossible it is for them since they need their 8 hours of sleep a day, but when it’s spread out through the day it can be done by pretty much anyone and many have proven this.

The major catch to such a system is your reliance on keeping on schedule, and this creates big problems for social interactions, and really would interfere with jobs and normal life. Also, people who apply the system tend to have too much time on their hands. But it has been applied throughout history; Leonardo Da Vinci is famous for having applied a more efficient sleeping pattern so no time was lost on all of the projects he wanted to work on.

But getting back to siestas, by spending just 20 minutes napping in the afternoon, you can save around 2 hours at night time. I personally only need 5-6 hours of sleep a night thanks to my siestas (I used to need 8). These 2-3 hour blocks add up to a lot of extra time to work on projects, like learning languages in my case. It also means I can go to bed relatively late (usually 1am) but still get up early (6-7am). Without a siesta, doing this would tire me out quickly.

And to those who say they “like” sleep, and so wouldn’t want to miss out on any, then why do you wait so long for the next sleeping session? I love sleep, and get to do it more often than everyone else! :) One reason I won’t feel tired during the day is because my body knows that the next sleeping time is not that far away, no matter what time of day it is.

I can’t stress enough how the savings in time multiply when you take into account how well rested you are in the afternoon and how quickly and more efficiently you’ll work because of that! Without an afternoon lull, I’ll get everything done much quicker, and that saves time in itself!

Getting into it

It will be very hard for you to adjust to this immediately. If you go lie down right now for 20 minutes, presuming it’s the afternoon, it’s likely you won’t get any kind of sleep. It took me an entire two weeks of lying down every day to get used to letting my body know that I am indeed allowing it to relax. If any thoughts came into my mind, I’d write them down to think about later and just try to clear my mind and relax.

After about a week I was lulling off to sleep, but relied heavily on my alarm clock to wake me up. If you sleep for too long you’ll end up feeling even groggier than you would if you hadn’t done anything! After two weeks I had adjusted, and now I usually wake up before my alarm clock goes off. I lie down, get to sleep within 2-3 minutes, actually dream (i.e. REM sleep) and then wake up naturally after about 15 or so minutes. I usually let myself “lie in” for that extra couple of minutes; my alarm is for getting me up, rather than actually waking me.

It’s important to note that REM sleep is the truly essential sleep you need. Most of the sleep you tend to go through in an 8 hour nightly session are other stages that don’t really help you much in terms of restfulness; and you only usually end up with 90 minutes of REM sleep in a typical night. So you can imagine how important one 20 minute session can be!

It was a frustrating two weeks while adjusting because at first I’d get no rest at all, and basically be staring at the ceiling for 20 minutes, and in the second week I wasn’t getting proper rest, and was barely lulling into sleep when the alarm already went off, but thanks to that investment I have an advantage for the rest of my life. Others tell me that they adjusted much quicker than that.

If you are on any kind of drugs that you don’t need for medical purposes, like alcohol, tobacco and caffeine, then they will mess up your ability to control your sleeping pattern, so you should give them up or try to reduce them to an absolute minimum. I get plenty done and am much more social both at weekends and when there’s no happy hour, by being a non-drinker.

Another thing that helps a lot is if you have white-noise on in the background (or via earphones from your MP3 player). I have a strong siesta-association with this and it helps me to get into the familiar settings of knowing it’s time for a nap.

Finally, it’s important to have some consistency. I get up early even on Sunday mornings, and get just as much done those days as I do any other because of that. Luckily, flexibility is fine, so I am indeed free to go out very late and get over the night-out much quicker than others!

Late-night-party recovery!

Living in festive Latin cultures means that sometimes nights out can typically go on until 7am or so! If you were to stay out that late and then attempt to get your “ideal” 8 hours sleep, then you will either not succeed and be tired all day, or get that amount and have missed most of the next day and likely be out of synch for several days. What a waste!

Luckily siestas solve this issue for me!

After a late night out, I will have just 3 or 4 hours sleep on arrival home, get up (while it’s still morning) and do what I need to do for a few hours, and then have a longer siesta of 2 hours after having lunch. This is less then what I usually get in a day, but is enough to energise me for a few hours after each sleep session. My body has been programmed to “know” that it only has to wait a few hours for the next session, so I can push it occasionally like this. When the next night arrives I will indeed be quite tired and be ready to return to a normal sleeping schedule.

Of course, binge drinking and having hangovers would make this too difficult. If you decide to punish your body, then you’re going to feel the consequences!

Get over extreme jet-lag in less than a day!

As a traveller, this one is quite important for me! Most people try to force their body to adjust to a new time zone by trying to sleep way too early or stay up way too late, and jetlag can last several days because of this.

When I arrive in a new country on the other side of the planet, then I’m almost always tired due to the flight and general stress of flying. If I arrive during the afternoon, then I get to rest, but will just have a slightly longer-than-normal siesta (even though it may be my normal night-time sleep period in the previous time zone) of about 2 hours. Then I get up and stay up for the rest of the day. Usually I’m not in the best form for that evening, but I’ll stay awake until around midnight and then crash for the night.

The first few hours are still pretty frustrating but I get over jetlag immediately because my body has been programmed to sleep as I command. When I know it will be a short sleep-time, then I use my white-noise sound (I actually have an app for my phone that plays the sound of rain up until the alarm countdown time), and that helps me to associate this with the brief-sleeping period.

On the other hand, if I arrive and it’s late at night, but my body thinks it’s the day time, then no worries! Unlike most people, I will definitely sleep immediately in this situation, since I would anyway! The difference is that I will not use my white-noise sound in the background (which tells my body that this is a “night time” sleep session) and likely get more sleep of about 4 hours. That night, I won’t be tired enough to sleep six hours, but will have a longer siesta of 2-3 hours when it’s afternoon local time, and then I’ll already be in synch and well rested enough to stay awake until the night time for a longer session!

And then in less extreme cases, where a difference of just a few hours are involved, because I have much greater control over telling my body it’s time to sleep than most people, I can stay up later or go to bed earlier. If I don’t get enough sleep, I will catch up when the afternoon comes and be in synch by then.

——–

Siestas have been a core part of helping me stay focused and have extra time, and of course it’s one of the many aspects of my life that I’ve incorporated from another culture (in this case from Spain). It has had a huge contribution to my quality of life so I really recommend others try it too :)

If you have any thoughts on this let me know in the comments below! Or share this idea with friends on Facebook!

***********************

Enter your email in the top right of the site to subscribe to the Language Hacking League e-mail list for way more tips sent directly to your inbox!

If you enjoyed this post, you will love my TEDx talk! You can get much better details of how I recommend learning a language if you watch it here.

This article was written by

Comments: If you liked this post or have anything to say, please leave a comment! I love reading them :)
Just keep in mind that I’ll delete any rude, trolling, spammy, irrelevant or way off-topic comments. Also, use your REAL name, not a brand or business one, and don’t link to your site in the comments unless it’s relevant to this post.
If you have a general language learning question, please ask it in the forums. Otherwise please use the search tool on the right for any other question not related to this post.

———————————–

  • jasmine

    I’m a student who works as a cashier. I’m not allowed to leave the till .. where can I find a place to nap? :D Haha

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

      You don’t eat during the day?
      Get someone else to cover for you for just 20 minutes and go to the back of the store. In most civilized countries a lunch break is a legal obligation of employers, so remind your boss of that ;)

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

      You don’t eat during the day?
      Get someone else to cover for you for just 20 minutes and go to the back of the store. In most civilized countries a lunch break is a legal obligation of employers, so remind your boss of that ;)

  • http://twitter.com/barcodex barcodex

    There should be some more tricks to be energized. Every time when I take a short sleep in the day, I am actually way more tired when I wake up, and instead of new energy I have shaking hands and lack of concentration. One hour is clearly not enough for my nervous system to recover. I remember I was sometimes sleeping from 5 to 6 when I was a schoolboy, but it never worked for me after I was 18…

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

      You’ll feel more tired if the nap is too long – an hour for example – this is NOT a power nap. You have to train your body to make it short ;)

  • http://blog.brain-scape.com Amanda Moritz

    I love short naps, too, and I’m glad you wrote such a comprehensive explanation of how you started taking siestas.
    My good friend once tried to do the polyphasic sleep schedule of 20 minute naps every 2 hours for a couple weeks. He was able to keep his energy level way up and got lots done in 2o + hours a day, but he told me that his immune system was shot and had to stop when he got a cold in the middle of the summer.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

      I also tried it, but my problem was just being bored in the middle of the night with not enough to do. People always say they wish for more time, but pretty much everyone I know who has tried the Uberman sleeping schedule says that they really do have way too much time.

  • http://sndrsch.blogspot.com Sandra

    Is the position in which you sleep important? I would do power-napping by sitting on my chair and putting down my head on the table instead of lying down in a bed…

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

      I can’t imagine it being too different. I happen to find lying down more comfortable, even if for just 20 minutes.

      • http://sndrsch.blogspot.com Sandra

        This is the reason why I would stay at the table: because the lying position is so comfortable that I would stay much longer than 20 minutes in bed…;-)

  • Anonymous

    Have you tried the sleep cycle alarm clock on the iPhone? That’s a really good app. It uses the tilty thing to judge when you are sleeping the deepest and when you are sleeping lightest and wakes you up accordingly.

    I to have always found it amazing when you nap during the day and then the next morning you feel refreshed.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

      I don’t use an iPhone myself anymore, but I imagine that app is on Android. However, I lie down for my naps so my body tilt doesn’t change. I prefer to scope it on time passed myself.

      • Anonymous

        The downside is that it costs money on the iPhone and that you can’t use it on any suface because otherwise the accelerometer can’t pick up your turning. Android have brought out a variation (it does the same thing) called “Smart Alarm Clock” and it’s free.

  • http://www.google.com/profiles/medviten Victor Berrjod

    It’s interesting that you mentioned polyphasic sleep – I have tried the Uberman schedule several times, but found it too impractical to implement. It would be less of a problem if I could adjust instantly, but alas…
    The worst part was dealing with my mother, who resisted the very idea no matter how well I explained it.

    I think a biphasic solution is the most practical one, and a 15-minute siesta is probably the best way to implement it. When I failed at Uberman, I tried doing a 1.5-hour siesta in the afternoon, but that didn’t work well at all.

    Speaking of sleep, I just screwed up my routine by watching a meteor shower with a friend until 2:30 a.m. today.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

      Polyphasic sleep is fine within itself, but the problems arise when conflicts with the rest of the world are taken into account. A siesta is an excllent middle ground :)

  • http://www.MyBeautifulAdventures.com/ GlobalButterfly

    I wish that I could nap, but well I’ve tried a million times and I can never fall asleep…

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

      “a million”? As stated in the article, I tried about 14 times and made sure I was in a comfortable environment and state of mind and changed my previous habits thanks to that.

      • Stephen Brown

        If you tried to nap once each day, it would take over 2700 years to try a million times ;-)

        I know you didn’t literally mean 1,000,000 times though – I’m just being pedantic!

  • kalek

    Thanks for the post! I’ve been excited to hear more about these since I saw the video of your typical day in Colombia.

    My schedule finally allows for siestas, so as of today I started. I didn’t fall asleep (I was close!), but I found it very relaxing, and I could definitely see myself getting used to these without much trouble.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

      I didn’t fall asleep at all in my first week – keep it up and you’ll be glad of the investment ;)

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

      I didn’t fall asleep at all in my first week – keep it up and you’ll be glad of the investment ;)

  • Tom

    Brilliant as always! I’d heard of the Uberman sleep schedule but it’s never really fit in with the rest of the world so I never tried it, though I never realised that siestas are sort of half way there. I thought there were just different but didn’t realise they were good for you, I’m starting tomorrow! Thanks =)

    By the way, which app do you use?

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

      The app I use (on Android remember) is called “Ultimate Power Nap”. It’s free (ad supported; doesn’t influence program use at all)!

      Siestas really are an excellent middle ground that work great in normal society!

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

      The app I use (on Android remember) is called “Ultimate Power Nap”. It’s free (ad supported; doesn’t influence program use at all)!

      Siestas really are an excellent middle ground that work great in normal society!

      • http://transboys.info/ Michael

        I had a look for “Ultimate Power Nap” and it doesn’t seem to exist in the Google Play store anymore; are you using a different app now or do you not even bother with one anymore? I had a different one a while ago but it didn’t work well at all so I’d love to know if you’ve found another one that works well for you. I’ve been napping daily for over a month and my body still hasn’t adjusted, which I’m sure is at least partly due to the fact that my alarm keeps pulling me out of deeper sleep and I’m groggy and tired post-nap.

  • http://www.RoadToEpic.com Adam Wik

    My wife and I tried the polyphasic thing, but we couldn’t stick to it for very long because of landing new jobs. We’d like to try it again once we get back to being freelancers. How long were you polyphasic for?

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

      I only tried it for two weeks, many many years ago. The university year had ended, but I still had two weeks left on the lease in my apartment, and I had nothing to do and no work, so it seemed the ideal time to experiment. It was an interesting experience, and I was successful very quickly; but it was quite boring being up in the middle of the night. I didn’t have Internet after 9pm back then :P

      I am a freelance now, but still feel it isn’t quite for me. You have to be strict to adhere to the 4 hour timetable, and this would disrupt my social life (which is very important to me), that may start at 7pm and go on until 3am.

      I think biphasic sleep is an excellent middle ground. However, if the person you spend your life with is willing to synch with you, I can see how it may indeed be way more practical!

      • http://www.RoadToEpic.com Adam Wik

        We may give the biphasic pattern a try first when we do start back up. I’ve heard a lot of people who have tried both say what you just did – that polyphasic was rough on their social life and biphasic was the perfect middle ground.

        • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

          Yes, I’m glad I found the right balance early! Polyphasic is efficient, but too hard for the vast majority of people to use it in normal society.

  • http://twitter.com/ykarabatov Yuri Karabatov

    Thanks for the post.

    I’ll definitely try to “power nap”! Especially as it’s not always possible to get a full night’s sleep.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

      Please do try, you’ll get so much more out of your day when you do :)

  • http://howlearnspanish.com/ Andrew

    Yup, I agree, and there have been a lot of studies on this in recent years showing how much it helps you, and all you need is 15 minutes, WAAAY better than being tired and trying to fix it by downing a cup of coffee, though…have you heard of the ‘caffeine nap’ where you drink a cup of coffee or shot of espresso immediately before taking your nap (the caffeine typically takes 10-15 minutes to start to enter your blood stream in amounts sufficient to affect you) and then you wake up rested AND with a bit of a caffeine boost? I’ve done that before and had pretty good results with it.

    Cheers,
    Andrew

    • Anonymous

      I think you mentioned before in one a reply to one yearlyglot’s posts that having “power naps” in language learning can really help as well. These breaks seem to apply to more than just your sleep cycle!

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

      I can’t imagine a caffeine nap being as good for you – in my experience people who take coffee regularly get used to the caffeine and it loses its effect on them over time, so it’s not a good long term solution.

      People should cut down on their caffeine intake if they want healthy sleeping patterns. I imagine it would work with that extra buzz after your nap, but getting the buzz totally naturally is way better. As I said, I feel like I get an adrenaline injection from an efficient siesta and no drugs are involved ;)

  • Ben Libb

    This sound really cool and I’d love to give it a try but I would never be able just to go to sleep for 20 minutes at the start. How do you train yourself to do it at the very beginnig, just set a timer and get up after 20 minutes even if you didn’t sleep or do you have a longer siesta at first?

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

      As stated in the article, I didn’t have an immediate acceptance of siestas from day one. It takes a few days to get used to it, but then you simply do :)

      Yes, all I did was set a timer. For the first few days I lied down and tried to clear my mind so I was relaxed – I didn’t actually sleep at first, but it paved the way for me to be ready to relax at that time of day. Eating a bigger lunch than normal will help to make you tired too.

  • mcdreamer

    Hi Benny,

    I’m currently off work until the new year so I thought I’d give siestas a try over the next couple of weeks. So today, I got into bed after lunch, set an alarm for 15 minutes time and dozed off. When my alarm went off I felt totally refreshed and as if I’d been asleep for much longer! Probably a fluke that I managed to drift off on my first try but it definitely makes me want to try again tomorrow!

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

      I know isn’t it weird!? I always feel like my 15 minutes were an hour or more from the great restfulness I get out of them :)
      Maybe it’s a fluke, but maintaining the right circumstances of feeling relaxed and having a comfortable environment means you really could do that every day ;) Good luck tomorrow :D

  • Jeroen (J.)

    Very interesting, i’ve heard of the benefits of napping, but never really gave it a fair shot.
    However, i need a lot of sleep: 8-9 hours daily, and i’ve been looking for ways to reduce this.

    I wonder if this could work as well after i get home from work? Suppose i take a 20 min-nap at 7pm (waking up at 8am), just after dinner.

    This would be ideal, very easy to implement… Anybody got any experiences with that?

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

      The problem with that is that it’s too close to your night-time session (midnight?) A siesta in the afternoon is an excellent way to split your day up – your body learns that it doesn’t have to wait so long for a nap, so you are constantly energised. Having the nap so close to the main sleeping session would make this harder. You could try it, but I’d advise you to find a way for it to work somehow during the day!

  • Anonymous

    Great and long post! :)
    Just one question: do you sleep everyday at the same time? (say between 2:30-2:50)? Or when you feel the “call”? I believe following a regular pattern can be useful but not sure, just curious how you do it.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

      No – I sleep about 30 minutes after lunch, and lunch varies a lot (from 11:30am to 3pm). The “lull” is caused by a reaction to eating food for many people rather than your body know it’s 2:30 ;) I’ve got it so my schedule can be pretty flexible. The consistency is in trying to actually do it every day.

      But for people who don’t have flexible working hours like me, they can indeed aim to have it at the same time every day!

  • Anonymous

    Great and long post! :)
    Just one question: do you sleep everyday at the same time? (say between 2:30-2:50)? Or when you feel the “call”? I believe following a regular pattern can be useful but not sure, just curious how you do it.

  • http://www.getintoenglish.com David

    I agree with what you’re saying but I also know that there are limits to telling people how to live their own life. If I told the cleaner at one company where I work, who has to raise a daughter on a minimum wage, that she should take a nap to maximise her productivity she’d tell me to, er, jump in the lake. So in the end the advice will work best for those who already feel there’s a problem and are actively looking for a solution.

    The other thing is that what works for you, someone with quite an exotic, flexible lifestyle, may not work for someone in a totally different situation.

    In my case I can’t nap but I do like to have some ‘feet up’ time for sure. This means a short time on the couch reading or listening to music before I head out again.

    Re: jet lag, the best way for me is to force myself to not doze off during the day and instead go to bed at a normal time (for me) ie preferably 11pm, or at least after the sun’s gone down for the day. Today I arrived in Melbourne from Prague, and have managed this quite well.

  • http://www.getintoenglish.com David

    I agree with what you’re saying but I also know that there are limits to telling people how to live their own life. If I told the cleaner at one company where I work, who has to raise a daughter on a minimum wage, that she should take a nap to maximise her productivity she’d tell me to, er, jump in the lake. So in the end the advice will work best for those who already feel there’s a problem and are actively looking for a solution.

    The other thing is that what works for you, someone with quite an exotic, flexible lifestyle, may not work for someone in a totally different situation.

    In my case I can’t nap but I do like to have some ‘feet up’ time for sure. This means a short time on the couch reading or listening to music before I head out again.

    Re: jet lag, the best way for me is to force myself to not doze off during the day and instead go to bed at a normal time (for me) ie preferably 11pm, or at least after the sun’s gone down for the day. Today I arrived in Melbourne from Prague, and have managed this quite well.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

      This post has nothing to do with “telling people how to live their own life”. It’s a choice people make themselves. This post isn’t for you to “order” your cleaner to work in a particular way, it’s suggesting that YOU consider it for yourself because of all the improvements it can bring. I don’t think you read the post very well.

      And you’ve ignored what I said about the fact that I did this for many years before working for myself. I had many 9-5 jobs too and made it work.

      Glad you’ve got your system to get over jetlag, but simply staying up later is not so easy. More frequent sleep via siestas lets me control my actual sleeping times much better – I can’t imagine you’d be managing so well the day after writing that comment!!

  • Mario

    Benny I have to agree with you here – I’ve been doing the same since February/March and just 20 minutes (that are usually even less sleep-time) are like magic. Again, even if you have a 9-5 job you can still take 20′ off your lunch or something to get this energy boost.

    Good that you put it all together, great resource!

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

      Thanks! Glad to see others doing it :)

  • magica237

    Tre bona artikolo, dankon! Ankaux bona ideo por mia novjara promeso. ;)

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

      Jes, faru!! Mi dormetos dum JES en Germanujo ;)

  • Guest

    My day doesn’t physically allow me to sleep around 2/3 o’clock … is sleeping around 5:30 too late?

  • http://www.CashAndJoy.com Catherine Caine

    I always thought that napping was one of those things you either could or couldn’t do, not an improveable skill. Nap one starts today and we shall see what happens!

    Thanks Benny. :)

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

      Best of luck :)

      • http://www.CashAndJoy.com Catherine Caine

        I’m a couple weeks in and still not getting any actual sleep. But already I’m feeling better for doing it.

        Cheers!

        • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

          Glad you’re feeling better :) Sometimes it’s not about the amount of time you put in. Even now I can’t get to sleep if my mind is active on something, so sometimes it’s about getting into sleep-mode state. Clear your mind, yawn and have white noise on in the background or anything else that would encourage you to stop thinking about things distracting you. ;) Eating a big lunch 30-60 minutes before helps a lot too!

  • Michal

    Hi! Great and inspiring post. I took some extra projects and need extra time :) I’ve been trying to have naps for the last week – quite promising (but I don’t instantly fall asleep yet :)). I have almost two extra hours in the morning when nobody disturbs me.

    I have some questions to you. I was wondering if you tried 4.5 hours sleep at night (three REM cycles)? You would need two naps during a day then? There is not much about triphasic sleep on the net.

    Does it happen that you need to catch up on sleep during weekends? Or 6 hours sleep plus siesta is always enough for your body?

    And how do you cope with staying late at night while meeting friends? I just fall asleep at 11pm and it is very difficult for me to stay longer…

    PS. Kiedy będziemy mogli pogadać po polsku?

    Cheers
    Michal

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

      I never need to “catch up” on sleep. My weekend patterns would be almost the same as my week patterns – if I go out late I’ll have a longer siesta, but I still get up early.

      I’ve never tried two power naps per day. It would give you more time, but one goes better with your bodies natural rhythm so I prefer it.

      I stay up late when with friends because I tend to go out to energetic places and the adrenaline alone (no drugs/coffee) keeps me up :)

  • April

    I discovered your blog yesterday(and am loving it ). I was thinking about trying siestas soon and happened to wake up earlier today due to a tornado! Seems like a sign.  Thank for you for sharing your experiences!

    April

  • April

    I discovered your blog yesterday(and am loving it ). I was thinking about trying siestas soon and happened to wake up earlier today due to a tornado! Seems like a sign.  Thank for you for sharing your experiences!

    April

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

      Best of luck with more efficient sleep :)

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

      Best of luck with more efficient sleep :)

  • Justin

    From personal experience, making sure the nap is at relatively the same time every day is important. I frequently napped in college, but my schedule was such that somedays I would have 6-7 straight hours of class and others I wouldn’t. If I was on a napping schedule, then regardless of how much sleep I got the night before, there was nothing I could do to prevent getting about 20 minutes of REM during class in the afternoon, near normal naptime. The lesson here being, if you can’t make it work daily, perhaps hold off until you can. Admittedly, after the REM I felt much better, but it was rather untimely.
    I did find this though, in support of napping. http://heldref-publications.metapress.com/app/home/contribution.asp?referrer=parent&backto=issue,3,5;journal,39,55;linkingpublicationresults,1:119957,1

    But, to touch on the Uberman sleeping point and polyphasic sleeping – I must admit surprise that you reported success with that method. I’ve known a few who’ve tried, and no one was successful. Also, I’ve heard that sleep needs vary per individual beyond what can be distilled down to ~2 hours of REM daily. When I went looking for something to back it up, the most relevant article I found related to individuality was this: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1365-2869.1999.00176.x/full Which is basically a scientific study on morning and evening people, and that there seem to be measurable differences between how certain people can get their sleep. But, I also found this guy’s website — which is largely an attempt to convince people against polyphasic sleeping, founded on the principle that humans have a basically unbreakable circadian rhythm. (I think i summarized that OK) http://www.supermemo.com/articles/polyphasic.htm
    http://www.supermemo.com/articles/polyphasic2010.htm

    But in the end, I have been re-inspired to try and nap in the lunch room tomorrow at work – viva la siesta!

    Final note: why people are referred to as zombies when they are sleep deprived:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep_onset_latency#Biomarkers_of_sleepiness

  • TJ

    I am definitely going to try this. I find sleep is one of the biggest factors that affects my mental state, and I have never found a way to master it. A 2 week siesta experiment sounds like a good idea.

    I have 2 questions:
    Does it have to be at the same time every day?
    You mention caffeine. I don’t drink coffee, but I do love to drink green and black tea. Should I wait until after the nap to drink it? I find the antioxidants in green tea to be too awesome to pass up, but if I could feel well rested everyday with siestas, I’d certainly be willing to lose some antioxidants in order to drink the decaffeinated version.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

      With extreme methods like Uberman, you have to be very strict to the exact time. With siestas you can actually be quite flexible! I sleep at different times different days, but consistency is the key if you want to get into it!
      I’m afraid I don’t know much about biochemistry, so I can’t answer your second question without unhelpful guesswork :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/rookus Teun Rookus

    Hee Benny, in my third day right now, it seems to go pretty wel!
    i already liked sleeping during the day sometime so siestas are not that hard for me to get into. Exam coming up next week, therefore it’s not bad to have the extra hours :)

    I have a few short questions though:
    Do you recommend sleeping more if you have the time for it, so i could go to bed at 11 instead of 12 and wake up at 6-7. then i will have more sleep (like 7 or 7.5 hours)
    Or should i stick with 6~ hours. Basically is it flexible?
    Now, in the mornings i still feel a bit tired but i guess that’s part of the program and later in the day i am feeling just fine!?!
    But i really think it’s a keeper. also stopped with drinking coffee (i will try doing that only on occasions here and there).
    Oeh and what about alcohol in the evening? is that a problem for the sleeping hours.

    Greets, Teun

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny Lewis

      Yep, it’s very flexible. If you can do it 3 times a day, it’s a little better, since you can sleep less overall! Just that it is more likely to interfere with social interactions. Even one in the afternoon requires some adjusting when I am at a conference etc.

      Yes, anything more than a glass of wine could mess up your entire sleeping pattern. That’s very likely why you may be tired in the mornings…

      • http://www.facebook.com/rookus Teun Rookus

        I appreciate the quick response! i had 3 naps yesterday. well, in the morning it was early. in the afternoon it was difficult to fit one in so in sat eyes closed for 15 minutes trying to wander off. and when i came home.
        Around 11/12 o clock. I Bursted with energy, which was a nice experience. It could have been just me, but it must have had something to do with it!
        Lol love your blog, i think this is gonna be one of my favourite tips!
        Thanks Benny

  • Silvia

    I’m spanish, and I spend a year abroad in the United States. I tried to have my siesta everyday while I was there, I remember it was a funny joke in my apartment and for my friends, the spaniard and her siestas, but I tell you, once you’re used to it, it’s so difficult to give up! I work now in Spain as an English teacher in a private academy in the afternoons so I can’t always have my siesta, but I’ve found the train trip from University to work, perfect to close my eyes! great article!! PS. I loved the fact that you mentioned the Spanish working schedule, many people told me that taking siestas would make their countries less productive when I tried to make my point by explaining that siestas are a good thing, I don’t think it is a sign of being lazy.

  • dorcssa

    I actually only have half hour of lunch time, but the basic problem is that the office is at the far end of the city (middle of nowhere), and I’m sure I can’t convince my boss to use one of the meeting rooms for this.

    I would really like to try this, because nowdays I would need that extra tow hours without being tired (need to do physical therapy every day, and finally want to restart learning german), any suggestions? :)

  • Alex

    Hey, Benny, I have been a great fan of this website ever since I discovered my own love for languages almost 4 years ago. In the past 2 years, I have not been capable of getting languages into my life, but I decided it is going to change now. I remembered about this post and decided that power naps could be the perfect solution for allowing me to do more in life. I know this is quite an old post of yours, but you are the only person I have ever heard of who does biphasic sleep.

    So, can you give me some advice? When you began adapting to this routine, did you begin right away sleeping only 6 hours a day and trying to make yourself fall asleep after lunch? Or did you first train your body to fall asleep in the middle of the day, and once you could do that you trained it to sleep just 6 hours per night?

    Thanks!

  • http://www.lionsinjapan.com/ Iris Hoppenbrouwers

    Practical question:
    I want to try your siesta recommendation. Now I get incredibly tired once a day, but at different times. Like today it was around noon, but yesterday it was at 5 o’clock pm.
    Would you recommend napping at a set time each day, or napping when I feel most tired?

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny Lewis

      I would recommend napping at a given time, especially within an hour of lunch time. The point is to NOT feel tired in the first place ;) If you are tired at such varied times, then you need to see why and fix it. You could be drinking too much coffee or not sleeping well the night before for instance.

      • http://www.lionsinjapan.com/ Iris Hoppenbrouwers

        Shows how I got used to being tired…
        Thanks for the reply. :) I’ll nap right after lunch.

  • Richard

    hi benny i have been doing your program about a week and half now and i have to say i feel great! i go to bed at 1:30 get up at 7:30 and have a nap around 2pm most days. However i have one question about 2-3 days a week i go out (as i am a college student in ireland but i dont drink lol i am the social creep). So i normally would end up being back home by about 2:30-3:00 and straight to bed. What would be the best way to compensate for these couple of days as i am not missing out on 4 hours sleep like the example you mentioned in the article but rather only an 1-2 hours at most? Would something like a disco nap be enough before the night out?

  • Kirsten

    With a lunch break of only 20 frenzied minutes I’m wondering if this is possible or if I should dely until afternoon when I get home at around 3:30? Nevertheless, I do intend to try this out!