Naps are awesome. In many ways, I prefer napping over a nighttime sleep. If you think about it, going to sleep at night is a requirement. You’re basically forced to put yourself into a state of unconsciousness for seven to nine hours every night in order to maintain your health and keep from going insane. The how’s and why’s behind that can be a post for another day, but my point is that napping is a choice (mostly). It just fells cozier. And one usually makes the decision to curl up on the couch or lounger for an hour, or even a single bed, which is conveniently in your living room because you no longer have a room in the basement. But I digress…
There are a number of potential benefits to grabbing a quick snooze. According to an article I read on The Mayo Clinic‘s website, napping can help with relaxation, reducing fatigue, increasing alertness and improving mood and performance. Considering that many people find themselves stuck at home day after day in recent months, the possibility of adding naps into one’s daily routine is a definite possibility.
Given that my 6-year old son goes to school five days a week and we have an infant who typically naps twice a day, my wife and I have fallen into a routine where we usually join him on at least one of those naps. Problematically, it has gotten to the point where we experience pretty hefty fatigue towards the dinner hour if we haven’t managed to get OUR nap in, which can be a bad thing despite the benefits of napping.
I’ve checked with a number of different sources and leaned on all my usual go-to’s (WebMD, HealthLine.com and The Mayo Clinic) and they all pretty much make the same recommendations:
- Don’t nap for long durations: If you nap long enough for it to start looking like a full night’s sleep, it’s not napping anymore. Most sources recommend no longer than 30 minutes to an hour, with one post indicating no longer than 20 minutes. Screw that noise. And hour is normally my preference, otherwise I feel there’s no point;
- Don’t nap past 3pm: This is a tough one for me, because I have a tendency of sitting on the couch in the late afternoon and suddenly BAM! I’m out like disco. But napping past 3pm may interfere with the upcoming nighttime sleep;
- Nap in a restful environment: Ever try to nap in an airport while awaiting a flight? I have! It usually results in waking up feeling like a bag of smashed ass, coupled with severe bodily pain due to those uncomfortable termination seats. Travelling is one example of when one may not have a choice, but if you’re napping at home, be sure to do it in a calm, quiet, restful environment.
Having a nap can be a an effective way of boosting work performance and improving your chances of furthering your career. In fact, an article posted by the Japanese Times (I couldn’t find the damn article again in order to link it) explains that a growing number of Japanese companies are making possible for staff to grab quick snoozes at the office in order to help manage their health and improve productivity.
Of course, the average Japanese employee only sleeps about six and a half hours a night, so there’s that. But I certainly wouldn’t object to having a sleep pod in my office in order to close my eyes for thirty minutes over lunch. That would certainly help get me over my usual afternoon slumps. But the Japanese have turned to creating nap rooms and having sleep pods in their break rooms. Innovative bunch, those Japanese. I mean, hey, they created karate, so that was a foregone conclusion…
Naps are okay. They don’t mean you’re lazy and they don’t necessarily mean you’re lacking sleep. But they are a good way to plan ahead and stave off the effects of “expected” lost sleep, especially with things like shift work or getting up frequently with babies. But if you find yourself in a situation where you simply CAN’T get through the day without sprawling for a couple of hours, you may want to consider speaking with your doctor about it. Certain prescription medications will not only make you groggy but could potentially be interfering with your nighttime sleep, resulting in the requirement for a nap.
Consider also, that if you have a genuine sleep disorder such as insomnia, night terrors or depression to name a few, it can leave you feeling exhausted the following day. One should also avoid the boomerang effect where you don’t sleep well at night so you nap, which results in a bad nighttime sleep. Wash and repeat. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to wear out the baby so he’ll go to bed. Daddy needs a nap! ☯