The Fine Art of Napping


nappingHere it is folks- the first meeting of N.A. (Nappers Anonymous) I’ll go first. Hi, I’m Helene and I am a serial napper. Oh yes, I suffer from insomnia, weird, strange raving dreams of words forcing their way through my mind, and all other sorts of delusions. And that makes me an artist – a writer, a dreamer, and a very tired human. But, I am in good company. FYI, Leonardo Da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Salvador Dali, and Eleanor Roosevelt, all led extraordinary lives, and they were all notorious serial nappers. So, there is hope for me and for you, fellow nappers of the world.

Napoléon is said to have been a fantastic napper. He could shut out the noise of the cannon and battle cries and take a much-needed snooze mid-afternoon. He claimed (or so historians say) that the little siesta gave him an energy boost, some new insights and the alertness necessary to turn the battle to his favor. SO, if it was good for the General, I too shall reap the benefits of some controlled shut-eye every afternoon.

Just how long is long enough for your little kip on the couch? I’m talking about the power nap peeps. 10 to 20 minutes should refresh and revive those tired neurons floating in your head. This type of power nap is safe, because even though you’ve opened the door to that yummy sleep state, your body hasn’t had time to delve beyond the lightest level of sleep. Yup, this means no dreams, but you can wake easily. Using these little naps, which are non-REM (no, not Michael Stipe, though the music is good,) you won’t suffer that groggy feeling. You SHOULD wake up refreshed, energized, relaxed and alert. You might even improve your mood. So therefore, mini nap = mood buster and energizer bunnies. YES!

Longer naps are risky. You get the same benefits, but, the longer you sleep the more dangerous for your day and your “insomniastic” nights. After that 20-minute mark, your body starts its descent to the territories of Deep Sleep. And like deep space, the re-entry is rough. I know, you think the mini nap is just not enough. Lucky for you, you can request a ten-minute extension. I just read a study (I know, right?) in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (OK, so I read an excerpt online – same gist, capiche?) 3 days of sleep testing (why don’t they ever pick me? I’m fabulous at sleeping) found that a strict 30-minute nap can negate the stressful effects of serious insomniacs. It truly helps with immune recovery after those punishing nights of hanging out with your demons.

Alright, so we are all agreed. Let’s move this meeting on to the best ways to improve your napping. Besides the obvious timing of your sideways sofa sprawl, there are a few other ways to maximize the benefits of the nap. (I sound so scientific, don’t I folks?) OK, here goes.

coffeenapenergyFirst, fellow “napaholics”, grab a cup of coffee right before a short nap. Yes, you heard me, and it’s not just because I need an excuse for those lovely magic beans. Depending on your body weight (so adjust your cup size accordingly) caffeine takes about 10-20 minutes to kick in. This is the exact perfect time for that quick nap with no grogginess. So, coffee + nap = energy.

Fellow bloggers, writers, and work at homers…negotiate for napping rights. If you’re home alone – well, this is easy. Just stare yourself in the eye and present your case. A 10-30-minute break will help you relieve stress and increase productivity. Just make sure my “home-aloners”, to set an alarm so you wake up in time and put that extra energy and alertness to good use. Lunchtime is usually a great time for your nap – middle of the day…blah blah blah. I like my nap about 45 minutes before I leave for afternoon carpool.

And finally, find your sleep space. Make a napping nook that is NOT your bed, as that is extremely dangerous! Remember what I said about those layers of sleep…the bed is waaaay too tempting for most. So, find a comfy space, someplace friendly. I love my couch. I prop up the pillow, curl into the back, schizo dog at my feet, and I wait. I stare out the window at the sky, and in about 3 minutes, I am in Napville, and the benefits are glorious.

Catnap in your own comfy space.
Catnap in your own comfy space.

And so fellow Napaholics, I draw this initial meeting of NA to a close. Serial napping is good for you! Don’t forget to have that coffee, set your timers and zzzzzzz….

If you’re a fellow daytime napper, let me know what works for you. What are your techniques and how do you benefit? Let’s talk, and I’ll see you at the next NA meeting.

Stay motivated and caffeinated!



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