Wednesday, October 14, 2015

My Daily Nap

I am an early riser. Although I never set an alarm, I generally awaken every morning between 5:30 and 6:30am. I stay busy most of the day, and indeed I am a person who thrives on staying busy. But every afternoon: I take a nap!

Daily napping started as a survival mechanism about 5 years ago in the midst of mothering an infant who slept very poorly, but now both of my kids sleep well and I usually sleep 7-8 hours per night.  Yet, I still take a nap every day. And I don't plan to ever stop. 


Benefits of Napping

Numerous studies have shown that naps have significant benefits, including increased productivity, motor skills, and mood. One study showed that "a nap improves mental performance, even after a full night's sleep" [1].

For me, taking a daily nap provides a brief respite for my busy, always-on-the-go self. As a homeschooling mother who is also working part-time from home, my time and attention are being pulled in many different directions for much of the day.  My daily nap allows me to recharge and be refreshed for the evening ahead. It gives me a calm, temporary stopping place. It is a lovely, cherished part of every day.

If I don't take a daily nap, I am more likely to be grumpy or burned-out in the evening.  Without a nap, I am less engaged with my family in the evening, and may feel like I want to be left alone. And if I my mood is poor, the mood in our whole household is negatively affected. So my daily nap actually provides a tangible benefit to my family and our home.

My Nap Routine

My nap is generally around 2:30 or 3pm each day. On rare occasions, I will shift my nap an hour or two earlier to accommodate some afternoon commitment, but for the most part I plan my napping time as a scheduled event that happens every day. Excepting the few times a year when we are away from home, I could count on one hand the number of times I have missed my daily nap in the last year.  

My nap has been such a regular part of our lives for so long now that my children just expect it every day as part of our daily Quiet Time (which I will blog about soon). My brain tends to be thinking fast all the time I am awake, so I need to do some calming activity before napping. Reading, yoga, or meditation work well for this.

Then I close the curtains partway (never all the way, or I awake feeling groggy), change into comfy clothes, and snuggle down. Most of the time I naturally wake after 10-15 minutes. Sometimes I sleep for an hour (and usually do feel a little groggy on those days). I only set an alarm if I have some commitment or appointment for after the nap, and I usually wake before the alarm anyways.

Naps Are Part of Many Cultures

Many cultures include daily napping. For instance, a siesta (or short nap in the early afternoon) is "historically common throughout the Mediterranean and Southern Europe" [2].  In "many parts of the world—including Greece, the Philippines, Mexico, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Nigeria—naps are seamlessly woven into the tapestry of everyday life" [3].  Naps are often frowned upon for adults in our culture, but I think this needs to change.  Short naps are beneficial, and in my own experience, they make life run more smoothly.

Do you nap? Have you tried Power Napping?

[1] The effects of a 20-min nap before post-lunch dip, Mitsuo Hayashi PhD and Tadao, Hori PhD, 
Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, Volume 52, Issue 2, pages 203–204, April 1998


Megan said...

I love this! Much of what you describe (being busy and thinking fast throughout the day rings true for me). I don't often nap, but am trying to make it a daily ritual. 2015 has been my year of self care and napping is something I plan to implement fully soon. Some days when my kids are needing me and the baby is not sleeping herself, I just declare that I'm not moving for an hour. We go to our bedroom (we have a bunch of beds next to each other for co-sleeping) and I read to them for a half an hour, then I close my eyes and rest. They all stay in the room with me and play quietly. I think they enjoy this time too. Like you said, I feel so much more engaged and energetic in the evenings after resting. I also notice that my 3 year old (who no longer naps) will occasionally fall asleep with me on these days when she's feeling rundown and it often helps her avoid getting sick.
I came upon this idea of napping while visiting a friend. We try to spend one day a week together and our kids play. After a few visits, she asked me if I minded if she laid down for her nap. And has every visit since. I think it's such a wonderful way to take care of ourselves. And I'm happy you are writing about it. So many blogs tend to focus on organization and efficiency and ignore self care!

Karen said...

I'm recovering from Chronic Lyme and for about four years, napped every day. I'm stronger and doing much better now so there are days I don't need to nap and can't quite get to sleep but just drifting and meditating helps a lot. I'll plan a little musical interlude with 'sleepy music' or nature sounds. Makes all the difference. Like you, if I sleep too long, I wake feeling groggy. Still though, when I nap, it is usually for half hour or so. We could shift the energy in this country if we instated nap time every day. :)

Kariane said...

I'm not often able to swing a nap, but I always make sure we all (myself -- especially myself -- included) have quiet resting time every day. It makes a huge difference.

Liz said...

I have a 3 year old and 5 year old. I'm unsure what I'd do with them during a nap. What do yours do? I know they're older. Any suggestions for me?

Sarah Smith said...

Yes, my kids are older now, but I started taking a daily nap back when my eldest was only 3. If either of your kids still takes a nap, I would try napping at the same time. The other child can be taught to be self-sufficient for a period of time (I started with ~30 minutes, as in, she would listen to a music CD while playing quietly, and I taught her to stay in the room playing quietly until the CD was over). I'll write more about ways to teach kids to be self-sufficient during naps in a future post about our daily quiet time, but hopefully this helps for now.

Unknown said...

Hi there! I ways enjoy reading your posts, so relatable.I Felt like I was reading a story from my life! My kids are grown now but when we homeschooled quiet time was part of our day too. When we first began I told my kids they didn't have to sleep, but had to stay on their bed and read or play quietly. Ineveitably, they would always fall sleep. Since my nap wasn't as long as theirs, it would give me uninterrupted time to get some things done. My kids still take naps even as adults!