Babies and toddlers, do it. Cats and puppies, do it too! And because they do, they have lots of boundless energy that is very difficult to contain! What do they know that we don’t? Why do so many of us have such difficulty taking naps when our bodies need it most? And then, there are those of us who have this napping business down to an art-form.
Thanks to Edison inventing the light bulb, we can push our bodies beyond the exhaustion zone. When we do, our natural sleep rhythms are disrupted, and a vicious cycle begins. Naps are not reserved just for the rhythms of nature and change in seasons, but anytime our bodies and mind crave for everything to stop – even for just a few minutes.
Here are some tips on what habitual nappers do to get their bodies energized!
1) Schedule the time to turn off
When we are at the office, we can schedule a quick nap after lunch. We can find a spot where we can be alone for 15 minutes and set an alarm so that we don’t miss the afternoon meeting. While at home, we can recharge our energy from our long list of chores by taking a little snooze on our patio, or on our cat’s favourite couch to give us the lift we need. Napping with kids could be a fun activity by creating a blanket fort in the living room. Adding this to our phone scheduler will, at the very least, have us stop for a moment or two to take a breath.
2) Early afternoon is the best time
Beware of the need for naps coming late in the afternoon as this will surely disrupt our night sleep. Whether we are feeling it or not, our body will just want to stop moving. It’s best to skip the late nap altogether to avoid a poor quality of sleep later. Remember point number 2 above!
3) Don’t feel guilty
Many of us feel a pang of guilt when our eyes become heavy and our bodies crave to curl up on a couch, and it’s only 2pm. The fear of being judged as lazy can easily prevent us from listening to our own body. We should always listen to our body.
4) Set a gentle alarm after 20 minutes
Naps are not intended to be hours long. We need to take lessons from cats to understand the art of napping. Short breaks can yield long bursts of energy and is what our goal should be. Setting a gentle alarm, and not a fire drill will ease us back to get on with our day. There is no need to shock us into wakefulness, our body will know when it’s had its fill.
5) Feel productive and accomplished
Although this may sound odd, taking breaks in our day will indeed improve productivity – more so than pushing through the fatigue to get to the end. Attempting to complete tasks when we are running on ‘empty’ only yields disorganized and substandard results. One thing we must remember is that there is always something to do.
When we find ourselves needing longer naps and not feeling rested afterwards it could be a sign of poor sleep quality. Seeing a professional if a sleep disorder is suspected is a good idea.
Gerry, Your Sleep Expert