I love my naps. I don’t take one every day, but when I do, I feel so much more focused and grounded. I’m not a great nighttime sleeper, and for so long I avoided naps because I thought they would disrupt my nighttime sleep. It’s not true, so I just ended up being tired all the time instead. Once I accepted the fact that my nights are often restless, I embraced my naps and have been all the better for it.
My Zoom meditation groups know my proclivity to naps. My husband and I recently redecorated my office/meditation room and I was excited to include a daybed, that’s how important they are to me. It appears in my Zoom background during every Tuesday morning and Thursday evening meditation session.
I stopped feeling guilty for my nap-taking. Napping gets a bad rap. Many people think that napping is for lazy, old, or mentally weak individuals. However, napping is common among mammals. Look at how much time your dog or cat spends napping. It’s impressive! It only makes sense that we could benefit from a regular nap, too. However, not everyone needs a nap, so give it a try, but listen to your body and do what it says.
Now all this said, I have been in the advantageous position of working at home for most of the last 30 years, so I am able to nap when I need or want to. You might work at home now and can adjust your schedule to fit in a nap, or take a quick 15 minute power nap on a break, as long as it’s not too late in the day. I have found that 3pm is my limit. If I sleep after that it will affect my nighttime sleep.
Why aren’t you taking advantage of naps? Read these benefits and then give yourself permission to catch a few afternoon zzzz’s:
- Less fatigue. While studies have shown that napping isn’t a substitute for a good night of sleep when it comes to physical restoration, you will feel less tired and refreshed if you take a nap.
- Greater alertness. Alertness is significantly improved with naps. You know that dreaded feeling of physical and mental fatigue that hit you in the afternoon? A nap is perfect for overcoming that. You’ll feel like a new person.
- Greater focus. With alertness comes greater focus. You’ll daydream less and find it easier to control your attention. If you’re struggling later in the day to keep your mind on task, a nap might be the answer.
- Enhanced mood. Naps have been shown to increase contentedness. Just ask my husband!
- Greater performance. If you’re less tired, more alert, more focused, and are in a better mood, you’re going to perform at a higher level. Naps are magical that way.
- Enhanced learning and memory. Certain types of learning and memory are greatly enhanced by napping. If you’re taking a night class, or say, an evening meditation class, a nap beforehand is a good idea. College students should consider napping during the day, too. If your memory is less than ideal, try a nap and see if it helps.
- More productive hours. A nap seems to reset your brain. It’s like you have a whole new day ahead of you. An afternoon nap can give you several more hours of productivity. Consider how little you probably get done later in the day now. That time might best be used for napping and then you can get back to it.
- Boost immune system. Countless studies have shown a positive effect of naps on immune function. Naps can help to keep you healthy. Naps are especially helpful during flu season. A nap a day might keep the doctor away better than an apple a day. And this is especially important this year.
- Improved physical stamina. Physical stamina is strengthened with naps. This has been demonstrated in athletes, soldiers, and regular people. Do you feel weak and ineffectual? A nap might be in order.
A few final tips to keep in mind:
- Determine the proper amount of time to nap. This varies with the person. Naps from 20-45 minutes work best for most people, but each person is a little different. Experiment and see what works best for you.
- Use an alarm. If you’re worried about oversleeping, you’ll be less likely to fall asleep and sleep soundly.
- Be consistent. You might feel a little groggy the first few times you try napping. Stick with it. Try to be consistent with your napping schedule, and your body will adapt.
- Napping costs nothing, feels good, and benefits your mind and body in so many ways. You’ll accomplish more and smile more while doing it. Avoid believing the naysayers, let go of the guilt and test it out for yourself. Napping is a great tool for increasing productivity and performance.