Tag Archives: naps

It’s Time to Take A Nap!

We live in a world that never goes to sleep. The advent of the internet and other amazing technology has opened Pandora’s Box and now we have the ability to be connected at all times.  We tweet, we blog, we watch news and entertainment media on our televisions, iPads, iPhones, Blackberries, or other devices, and we can instantly communicate with each other 24/7. We are busy, and granted, we essentially need to be.  We work, we parent, we are in relationships, and we try to be good neighbors. On top of that, we invest our time, our talent and/or our dollars in our communities, politics, and philanthropic endeavors that move us. We care about our world.  We want to make it better.

But do we realize that all this activity takes its toll on us? Do we give ourselves a little of our own attention? We should, because we’d be healthier if we took a break now and then. Turn off your gadgets, put your sweet head on a pillow, and take a nap.  Studies show that when individuals take a half-hour nap each day, they are generally healthier.  They have less stress, lower blood pressure, and are at a decreased risk for heart disease.  One very important note about heart disease:  It is the leading killer of women.  So, this is at least one good reason why women should be scheduling those naps regularly.  “Oh, sure”, you say.  “With my busy schedule, between car pool, my hectic work schedule, trying to sneak in a dinner out with my husband, and checking the kids’ homework, when was I supposed to get that nap in?”

Okay, perhaps not everyone can spare a half-hour every day for some ‘shut-eye.’ But if you meditate, practice yoga, exercise, or hopefully some combination of the three, you are already moving in the right direction to focusing on a healthier lifestyle, and that is a wise investment of some of your time.

We all need to balance our busy lives in the most harmonious way possible for us individually, and only you will know how to do that for you. I don’t posit that there is a one-way-works-for-all answer to the question of how to bring our lives into balance, but I do think it’s important to discover our own sense of harmony in order to do so.  I  am sixty now, and I have just discovered “napping” this year.  I’m late, I know.  Thankfully, I discovered meditation, Yoga and exercise much earlier.  I also know now that my body has limitations.  My energy runs out if I don’t replenish it.  A short nap, which I usually start with a meditation session, rejuvenates me.

My sense is that you don’t have to wait until you’re sixty to discover this trick of finding time for yourself.  I carved out time for myself to work out at the gym even when I was younger — so I know it can be done.  Just take some of that time — perhaps it will only be ten or fifteen minutes, but instead of pounding away on a treadmill, or spinning, use it to rest.  I promise you, it will still make you smile, and it will be dreamy.

Creative Commons License photo credit: susivinh

Proof you went psychotic last night… plus why you should ask your boss for naptime

University of California Psychology and Neuroscience Professor, Matthew Walker, gives three good reasons to believe we all become psychotic when we sleep:

  1. You see things that simply were not there (you hallucinate).
  2. You believe things that could not possibly be true (you become delusional).
  3. When you wake up, you probably forget most if not all of what happened (you experience amnesia).

Watch the complete talk here

Matthew Walker is one of my scientific heroes. The man has literally it his mission to prove that midday naps are a vital to learning and that dreams aid in emotional processing. How cool is that?

I was talking to a friend yesterday about how in America (and much of the “modernized” world), we really de-value the importance of sleep in an effort to be more productive. In most cultures throughout history, there has been time set aside — usually right after lunch — for people to rest, digest, have a little siesta before getting back to work. Now, we’re seeing the American work-your-tail-off-9am-to-5pm model being embraced in developing countries all around the world. The underlying assumption is that skipping sleep and working more will make us more productive. But according to Walker’s research… that’s not necessarily the case.

I’ve always been taught that naps are for lazy people, something you only get to do if you’re feeling sick or have a lot of time on your hands. Sleep, however, appears to be a far more complex and integral phenomenon than we give it credit for. A thirty-minute cat nap can help consolidate memory, enhance cognitive skills, and support the integration of emotional experiences. As we learned yesterday, you’ll actually die from lack of sleep before you will starvation. Sometimes, you’re more productive with your head on a pillow than in front of a computer screen.

So maybe catching a few extra Zzzzzz after lunch isn’t such a bad thing after all, even if it does make you a little psychotic.

Photo Credit (CC): MediaSpin

7 Tips For Effective Afternoon Naps

 If you are at all able to take a short nap during the day, by all means, you should and should not feel guilty about it. There is much truth behind the elusive “power nap.” Some of the greatest thinkers in history were given to brief naps during the day. Albert Einstein, John F. Kennedy, and Thomas Edison, among scores of others, recognized the value in re-charging during the day.

 Still, there is something of a stigma about taking an afternoon nap, and therefore, a good reason that so-called “energy drinks,” those loaded with caffeine, have become so popular. The drawbacks to this sort of “revival” include the consumption of too much sugar, which, while perhaps giving you a short burst of energy, will make you feel even more tired later.

Do the natural thing and nap. Fortunately, many employers are paying attention to science. NASA reports that:

The benefits from napping as little as five minutes to as much as two hours are miraculous, and research has proven that taking a 20-minute nap approximately eight hours after you have awaken will do more for your stamina than sleeping another 20 minutes in the morning.

 So, these instead of firing you, as was once almost assuredly the case, your boss may now encourage naps as they reduce errors due to fatigue and make you more productive in general. Here are some tips to make a short nap work for you!

Length: 15-30 minutes is what is most often recommended.

Set an Alarm so you can get back to work in a timely fashion.

Darkness is what you want to aim for. Close your blinds if you can. Turn off your computer monitor, too.

Silence is best. Silence your phone,  if at all possible. Shut your door.

Stretch Out if you can. If not, lay your head on your desk.

Keep a travel pillow/blanket in your office.

Clear Your Mind. Thoughts about everything you have to do can inhibit your napping time. If you feel your mind racing just as you are trying to nap, concentrate on breathing. Take deep breaths and release slowly. This has a calming effect and will relax you.

Happy napping!

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / RIPizzo



A Personal Reflection on Ways to Increase Energy

 1. Maintain adequate hydration:  While it used to be said that the average sedentary person should drink 8 X 8 ounce glasses of water a day, this has come into question.  Some experts say that this includes foods that contain water.  In addition, while the thirst mechanism is said to kick in when it is too late, there is also some question about this.  Exercise, heat and other variables also affect how much water one should drink.  Thus, all I can offer is a personal reflection which is: when I want to increase my energy, I sometimes drink water and this seems to bring me back to life even when I have not consciously recognized that I am thirsty. 

2.  Diet:  The best personal experience I can offer here is:  get that breakfast in.  Skipping breakfast is tempting when one is on the go, but breakfast is a very important meal and just eating breakfast can make you feel much more energetic throughout the day.  I do love satisfying meals, but I find that if I do not keep my lunch light, I feel an energy drain in the afternoon.  I have often thought that siestas were a good idea, but this doesn’t really fit in with most of our lifestyles.

3.  Meditation:  I have noticed that meditating twice a day for at least 20 minutes at a time significantly increases my energy.  My thought processes seem to be more efficient.

4.  Short naps:  A short nap in the middle of the day (5-10 minutes) can do wonders.  Some research has shown that 60-minute power naps can be very restorative but a usual day for me does not allow this.

5.  Music:  For me, listening to music that I love on the way to work gives me a much needed energy boost.  Sometimes, having the radio on and suddenly hearing a song I love gives me a thrill and euphoria that lasts throughout the day.

6.  Exercise and regular stretching:  I find that when I exercise, I usually feel more energetic, especially directly after exercising.  A brief stint of dancing or going for a walk can also help.

7.  Concentrating:  Getting absorbed in my work allows me to focus and this focus seems to decrease my energy requirements.  When I am more scattered, this is also more draining.  Thus, focus is not just a result of having more energy but it can increase energy as well.

8.  Giving:  Giving a loved one a little gift can be such an energizing experience.  Any random act of kindness can be energizing.  Receiving can also be wonderful when the opportunity arises.

9. Letting go of negative mind states:  Addressing anger and forgiving can be wonderful ways to suddenly enhance energy.  Often, our brains are drained by something that has been unaddressed.  The anticipation is worse than the event.  When something is troubling you, address it as soon as you can.  This will cause great relief and a surge of energy.

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