To Nap or Not to Nap
Do you nap? If so, do you nap daily or just when you didn't get enough sleep the night before? Is it a ritual or a recovery technique? Do you feel guilty for napping? Do you wake up feeling refreshed or groggy?
Your answers to these questions might give you some insight into your napping IQ. I recommend taking naps on a daily basis. They help us restore our body to its natural balance and they keep our mind sharp and refreshed while relieving stress and anxiety.
There is an art to napping, though. Drifting into four hour naps every day might prove to be more unsettling than a 20 to 30 minute power nap. The National Sleep Foundation recommends daily power naps. The key is to nap in a way that is supportive to your biological functions and won't affect your ability to fall asleep at your regular bedtime. I consider myself a pro on this topic. I've been napping since I was a teenager, but not in the typical fall-asleep-watching-TV sort of way. I was dancing by the age of nine, and teaching and training in the fitness industry by the age of 16, so my naps were actually my body instinctively telling me that it needed to rest in order to reboot. When I opened my own fitness studio at 21, naps became more of a staple in my life. After teaching a few classes and working out for a few hours, my body would guide me to rest, and I would awaken refreshed and alert. I always slept well at night too. If anything, my naps assisted my body in forming a healthy relationship with sleep. Many of my peers have often asked if I experience burnout and exhaustion from doing what I do for more than 28 years. I always seem to surprise them with my answer: "No, not at all. I feel as excited and energized to teach every morning as I did in my teens." I attribute this to my ability to listen to my body, giving it what it tells me it needs. And I truly love what I do.
I share this with you because there have been moments in my life when I wondered if it was okay to nap almost every day. Now that I've entered my 40's, I have a much deeper sense of my body and how it communicates with me. I am at peace when I honor its needs. When my naps are a little longer, I look into my eating, hormones or mood to see if there is anything out of balance. Mostly, I trust that my naps are an act of kindness toward myself.
I encourage you to take some time out of your busy schedule and give yourself the gift of a nap. See how you feel when you wake up and discover all the benefits of this indulgence. You don't have to spend hundreds of dollars at a spa to feel refreshed. Sometimes, you hold all the answers inside. Well, you and a nice fluffy pillow.
Some famous people who nap:
• Leonardo da Vinci
• The French Emperor Napoleon
• Thomas Edison
• Eleanor Roosevelt
• Gene Autry
• President John F. Kennedy actually ate his lunch in bed and then settled in for a nap—every day! Now that's my kind of president.
• John D. Rockefeller
• Prime Minister Winston Churchill
• President Lyndon B. Johnson
• President Ronald Reagan