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?  When you nap do you feel guilty?  Do you wake up feeling refreshed or groggy?

Your answers to these questions might give you some insight into your napping IQ.  Turns out that naps are recommended on a daily basis.  They help us restore our body to its natural balance, keep our mind sharp and refreshed while relieving stress and anxiety.  

There is an art to it though.  Drifting into four-hour naps every day might prove to be more unsettling then a power nap of 20-30 minutes.  The National Sleep Foundation actually recommends daily power naps; I knew I was onto something.  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; 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; to reboot. When I opened my own fitness studio at 21 my 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 over 28 years.  I always seem to surprise them with my answer of  “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 listening skills, giving my body what it tells me it needs and because I truly love what I do.

I share this with you because there have been moments in my life when I was curious if it was okay to nap almost every day.  As I entered my40’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 for some insight as to see if there is anything out of balance.  Mostly, I trust that my naps are an act of kindness towards 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 nappers:

Leonardo da Vinci, the French Emperor Napoleon, Thomas Edison, Eleanor RooseveltGene Autry, President John F. Kennedy ate his lunch in bed and then settled in for a nap—every day! (now that’s my kind of president), John D. Rockefeller, Winston Churchill, President Lyndon B. Johnson and President Ronald Reagan famously took naps as well.