The other day I mentioned that I felt guilty after taking a nap. Luckily I have some kind friends who answered with loving responses, encouraging me to rest. If only our culture would do the same. If only we were allowed, like bears, to turn off our metabolism, tuck in the kids, and wake up in April. What if we gave ourselves permission to create a human version of hibernation?
Soon enough we will be ushering in spring and sunnier days. Our faces turned up toward the blue sky, and napping may not even occur to us. For now, let’s honor our bear-selves and give in to rest, and trust in the science behind the benefits of napping, yoga, meditation, and other related restoration:
Don’t feed in to the burn-out culture. Instead of bragging about your sleep deprivation, brag about your naps!
Research shows that napping and resting boost creativity and problem-solving. Scientists at NASA rely on rested astronauts to make 40% fewer mistakes. Today, allow yourself to take a mindful siesta. Make mid-day downtime a firm commitment on your schedule.
If you can lay down, do so for only twenty to thirty minutes. The ideal nap is a light sleep that leaves you feeling refreshed, not groggy. If you can’t lay down, you can rest by moving away from your computer and taking some gentle stretches. If you absolutely can’t move away from your screen try a meditation app like calm.com or headspace and focus on your breathing, allowing yourself to luxuriate in a half-awake state.
Most Americans are sleep-walking around with a big sleep deficit. If you are feeling fatigued consider the following:
1. Go to sleep at the same time every night.
2. Use your bed for sleep and sex only. That means not catching up on past seasons of your favorite Netflix series. Make eight hours of sleep the new black.
3. Learn how to relax your mind and body on cue. If this seems foreign to you, check out our post on Yoga Nidra.
4. Keep your naps short and toward the middle of the day – especially if you struggle with insomnia.
5. Choose tea and toast or milk and oatmeal as your evening snack over alcohol.
6. Turn the lights out! Especially computer screens. Any blue light from LED screens tells your brain to stay awake.
Need more incentive to nap? Visit the National Sleep Foundation website.
We wish you twenty minutes of mindfulness every day!