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The Art of Napping

8604629_sNapping is an integral part of my life.

Other people could have hobbies that take up as much of their lives as napping does in mine. I’m a public napper and a private napper. I’m a morning napper and an afternoon napper. When I got married two summers ago we built into our wedding day timeline a post-shower, pre-dressing nap. My sister, who was my hairstylist, was only slightly appalled that on my wedding day I would shower and then snuggle into bed with my long, curly hair wet and loose all over the pillow. But it was the reason I was able to feel so comfortable and easy all day long.

Last summer when we decided to restructure and redecorate our living room to make a better home office for me, my architect husband made me list off all the verbs that would happen in my ideal office. One by one out they came: writing, yoga, reading, talking on the phone, paying bills, writing formulas, teaching private yoga lessons and napping. I’ll never have an office without a couch as long as I live.

I would assume that at all the points when I start looking for a piece of floor or a reasonably-sized chair most other people are looking for a cup of coffee. I feel certain that I am not the sleepiest person I know, I am just one of the few caffeine-free people I know. A strong cup of tea in the middle of the afternoon is a decadence I allow myself about 5 times a year. It leaves me unreasonably talkative, moving too fast and with a racing heart. I can handle a morning cup of tea with caffeine without bother, but after 1pm things get a little too exciting. However a nap at 3pm always does the trick.

 

Why A Couch Over A Coffee?
Quieting the Nervous System: Unlike a beverage stimulant, a 30-minute nap is a natural relaxant. It clears the mind, calms the nervous system, lowers anxiety and refreshes you for the rest of the day without any crashes, because you are more rested. Napping requires the parasympathetic nervous system, so even if you get a half hour in rest and digest mode, your body will thank you.

Yield: There is no better example of yield than shutting off your day for 10-15 minutes, curling up and giving over to rest. You are deliberately saying to your projects, co-workers and timelines that your mental and physical health require pause. One has to trust fully that the body will be more efficient after the rest to make up for the time lost and one has to fully turn off the mind for the duration of the nap.

Mental Clarity: We all have experienced that moment of adrenaline when a cup of tea or coffee finally reaches the blood stream and our eyes open a little wider. We feel more alive. Something different happens after a nap. We wake up doe-eyed and peaceful. We don’t want to take on the world, we want to get to our next appointment or finish our next project in an easy, efficient way. We are gentle toward ourselves and gentle toward the world. How often do you awake remembering something that had slipped your mind or figure out a way to solve a problem you hadn’t thought of before? After a nap our brain is not faster, but sharper.

 

How To Fit In A Nap?
Before the advent of cellphones I used to carry a stop watch with me at all times. That way whenever I found myself tired and with a horizontal surface I could set an alarm and conk out. Now we all have cellphones that serve the same purpose.

It doesn’t take long to nap. You don’t even need to fully fall asleep, you just need to fully yield to the earth or the couch or the chair and rest. As you get better and better at it the body will know how to shut off quickly and then rise up out of sleep.  When I was in college (literature major) and had to devour countless books in a weekend I would decide on a page limit, say 50-100 pages at a time, and follow it with a 10-minute nap. Those 10-minute naps were like drugged spells and when my alarm would go off I couldn’t remember what town I was in.

Nowadays I don’t set an alarm. I have designated napping days where any length of nap is allowed within my schedule to best keep me rested and grounded for patient work. My naps range from 20 minutes to 100 minutes depending upon how fatigued the week has made me. Some would consider it a luxury, but I know that the work levels for the rest of the week are so much more efficient, because I never work tired.

Even if you work full time and know that there is no napping possibility for you Monday through Friday, I invite you to notice on the weekends if you would benefit from a nap. Two naps a week adds a significant amount of sleep to your weekly allotment and will significantly lower your stress level.

Amazing Nap Substitutes

  • Legs up the Wall
  • Sivasana
  • Glass of Water
  • Citrus
  • Headstand (only if you know how to comfortably)
  • 10 minute walk
  • Jumping or bouncing to promote qi flow

Copyright: fotovampir / 123RF Stock Photo

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