The Power of Naps

I count it as an absolute certainty that in paradise, everyone naps. A nap is a perfect pleasure and it’s a useful, too. It splits the day into two halves, making each half more manageable and enjoyable.

– How to Be Idle: A Loafer’s Manifesto by Tom Hodgkinson

A solid 23 years after my kindergarten graduation I still take naps. Generally speaking, we are an anti-adult-nap-taking culture, with a distinct lack of a Siesta. Napping can be a controversial topic, people either love them or hate them. I find naps both restorative and worthwhile. Here are a few of my unscientific solutions for some common napping complaints I have heard over the years.

POST NAP DAZE

Living the remainder of your day in a post nap fog is a calculated risk. When sheer exhaustion makes it hard to function without more rest, it’s a risk that is worth taking. Find your own nap style. Trial and error helped me determine I’m a 2 hour max napper. Between 1 and 2 hours being ideal. 30 mins is usually not enough and over 2 hours keeps me in a daze.

SLEEPLESS NIGHTS

I have a 5:00pm rule for napping. That is the magic hour. I try not to take a nap after 5pm or sleep past 5pm. The later and longer I nap increases the chance that it will mess with nightime sleep routine. To learn more about your individual ideal nap time pick up Dr. Sara Mednick’s book Take a Nap! Change Your Life.

AM/PM PANIC

Waking up painicked is never ideal. What I am about to share is possibly the dorkiest thing I do yet also my best nap #PROTIP: Creating a unique nap routine will help ease post nap confusion. For example, I only take naps in a sleeping bag over top of my sheets. This does seem like a strange habit on the surface. But waking up in a sleeping bag instantly alerts me that the winter darkness means evening and that eliminates any panic.

PEAK PRODUCTION LOSS

I tend to be most productive early in the morning and very late at night. I also require a lot of sleep. So naps work well for me. BUT, just because I find value in napping doesn’t you will. Just because society only endorses a 20 minute “power nap” doesn’t mean that will work for you. Don’t believe the hype, listen to you body. Trust it and sleep well, whatever the time.

photo by gabork via Flickr used under CC License, remixed by me