The Art of Napping
Our Goldendoodle, Poppy, has the “art of napping” down. She can have a very busy, interactive day, and then must doze for a while, replenish her energy before she is back up and about, doing her thing. Apparently, Poppy, like 85% of the mammalian species, has it figured out. She knows how to take care of herself. She knows how to nap.
Napping may be a foreign behavior to many of us. Unlike other countries,our Western civilization doesn’t really
encourage “siestas”. In fact, I would say our culture is the opposite. We are encouraged to be up early, put in long days at work or home, and not sink into moments of rest when we grow weary during our day. We are a country that is sleep deprived with our nighttime sleeping, and we are not encouraged to get extra ZZZZ’s during the day when we might need it.
We may want to refine our “napping skills”. Research shows that this pattern may not be the best for our health and
wellness. Napping has benefits to the mind and body. Consider napping a “brain reboot” that comes with a burst of energy and increased motor performance. Sleep experts advise that the nap benefits include increased alertness, a boost to creativity, a reduction of stress, improved perception and stamina, improved motor skills and accuracy, an enhanced sex life, an aid in weight loss, a reduction in the risk of heart attacks and a brightening of the mood and a memory boost. (National Sleep Foundation, 2019) These benefits seem worthy of taking note and incorporating in our life.
The art of nap-taking consists of understanding how a power-nap works. Sleep cycles through five stages. The power nap seeks to include just the first two of these stages. Stage one lasts up to 10 minutes, and stage two lasts to 20 minutes. Experts advise that the optimal power nap should coincide with these first 20 minutes which will give you full access to stage two’s restorative benefits. Anything over these first 20 minutes may put you into a slow-wave sleep. If you move into this slow-wave sleep, upon waking up the mind can be sluggish, limbs heavy, eyes enable to focus and may, ultimately, ruin your day. If you need sleep beyond the 20 minutes then stay in your nap mode for 50 minutes to get you through that next stage. A 90-minute nap will likely involve a full cycle of sleep which enhances the benefits of creativity, memory and learning. It may be time for us to rethink our thoughts and
judgments around napping. Napping isn’t just for children and doesn’t mean we are lazy. We actually increase our
productivity with a short snooze. While it may not be reasonable for you to take a cat-nap at your desk, it might
be doable to take a 20-minute lunch nap during your work day. If you find yourself dozing at your desk, perhaps
pulling out the ear plugs and eye cover will give you exactly what you need to power through that project.
National Sleep Foundation. (2019, April). Napping benefits and Tips. Retrieved from National Sleep Foundation: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/napping
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
- Janie Pfeifer Watson, LICSW, is the founder and director of Wholeness Healing Center, a mental health practice in Grand Island, Nebraska with remote sites in Broken Bow and Kearney. Her expertise encompasses a broad range of areas, including depression, anxiety, attachment and bonding, coaching, couples work, mindfulness, trauma, and grief. She views therapy as an opportunity to learn more about yourself as you step more into being your authentic self. From her perspective this is part of the spiritual journey; on this journey, she serves as a mirror for her clients as they get to know themselves—and, ultimately, to love themselves.
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