I’d love to know what was your reaction when you read the title of this post. Was it an overwhelmed “No way I’ll find the time to nap with my crazy schedule!” or an ironic “Sure. My boss will love that.” Or a defeated “I don’t have enough hours in the day as it is to get everything done, so forget about taking a nap.” If I may, for all those reasons (and more) I’m going to suggest you consider napping anyway.
As a long-time napper myself, I can tell you it hasn’t kept me from getting stuff done, growing and expanding. In fact for me napping in the middle of the day is a must if I want to remain sane and productive.
Now it’s true we don’t live in a society that encourages napping in the middle of the day. But nor do we live in a society that encourages healthy eating, favoring people over profit in business or pondering life’s deeper meaning. Does that mean we shouldn’t do any of that? And rather bow to society’s expectations? “Work hard, play hard” anybody? It sure hasn’t worked too well for us as a country, looking at our collective state of health compared to other wealthy nations. But since you are here, I’m guessing you are part of a sub-culture of deliberate creators striving to live life on your own terms, independently from the dictates of society.
You can think of it as a (very) quiet rebellion against the system. Today in the United States it sure is!
Seemingly innocuous, napping is a potentially positively disruptive practice (to the “work hard, play hard” mentality). It can help you more than you’ve ever thought in creating a business and life you love, while enjoying the ride.
Coming from a family of farmers, napping has always been part of my life. As a kid my parents would wake up at 5am and work until sunset. When you have that kind of schedule napping is a necessity. It’s sacred even! All the years I lived at home I naturally followed their rhythm, almost always lying down after lunch for a little siesta, anytime from 10 to 30 minutes. Generally, I have found that for people living close to the natural world, getting up early, pausing after lunch and retiring early comes, well, naturally. As if this was our most efficient way to live, in sync with Mother Nature (i.e. of course that is exactly what Ayurveda teaches!)
When I moved to New York City in my late teens I didn’t stop napping. My intense training as a dancer demanded it. Nowadays, my work as a health practitioner often has me seeing clients a 8am, sometimes earlier, as well as 8pm, sometimes later. How am I to keep my energy strong from start to finish? By napping, of course. But you know what, even if I don’t have a long day I still nap! I relish that me-time too much. More than anything else, napping helps me keep everything in perspective (work, health, love, finances…) And if you’ve been following me for a while you know my #1 stress relief tool is just that, perspective. It can be found through meditation, laughter and you guessed it, sleep.
• To recharge your batteries. Instead of looking for a quick and short-lived boost of energy in caffeine or sugar, go for the stable energy a nap provides.
• To disconnect from doing, from deadlines and get back to being. Is your life spinning so fast you don’t know anymore why you’re doing what you’re doing and who’s doing it?
• To stop a momentum in an unwanted direction and reboot. If you started your day frazzled and unfocused, spilled coffee on yourself, got stuck in traffic, arrived late at work only to have an argument with a colleague, you know you’ve got an unhappy momentum going there. How can you stop it? Go to sleep!
• To keep your mental energy clear and focused all day. Why only have a few good hours? Napping will help you have an equally efficient and fun day from morning to evening. Bonus: you’ll get to dinner time able to hold a conversation, not needing comfort foods nor alcohol to unwind.
• To slow down time! Yup. Segmenting your day with a midday break will actually cause a shift in how you experience time. Don’t you often hear people (maybe yourself too) say things like “Time is flying by!” or “OMG it’s already [5pm! Spring! Thanksgiving! Our anniversary!] you name it. Yet we know the earth is still taking about 365 days to orbit around the sun, and about 24 hours to rotate on itself. So what has changed? Our mindsets. Our perception of time. By slowing you down internally a midday nap will shift your experience of time to a slower, gentler pace.
A few elements are required for successful napping.
• Be clear and uncompromising with yourself (and others around you): this is a time out and it is YOURS. Simply finding it within yourself to access that mindset is healing.
• Get comfy. Loosen your clothes. Remove your glasses. Keep yourself warm. Take your shoes off if possible. Even use an eye pillow. Our sense of sight is the most stimulated of our five senses. The darkness and gentle pressure provided by the pillow with soothe tired eyes like nothing else.
• Lie down if you can. If you can’t, that is OK. Find a comfortable chair, at least try and recline.
• Put on earplugs or listen to soothing sounds. Your nervous system needs quiet to unwind and ease into sleep.
• For a few more tips check out Yelo Spa owner Nicolas Ronco’s recent piece on napping in the Huffington Post.
If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of sleep, and most of all how to get some (!), whether napping or at night, join me on April 24th from 7PM to 8:30PM as I explore the reasons why we don’t sleep well and what to do about it. You may register below. (note: this event is for women only.)
Don’t forget sharing is caring. Please share this post with your overworked, overwhelmed and sleep-deprived girlfriends. Any positive experience (or negative) with napping? Any more tips for the perfect nap? Go to the comment section below and share away.
(PS. Everyone who attends Get Some Sleep on 4/29 will receive a complimentary sample of Sleep, an essential oil blend by Essence of Vali)