What was your reaction when you read the title of this post? Was it an overwhelmed, "No way I can find the time to nap with my crazy schedule"? Was it an ironic, "Sure. My boss will love that"? Or a defeated, "I don't have enough hours in the day as it is to get everything done, so forget about napping"? If I may, for all those reasons (and more) I'm going to suggest you consider napping anyway.
As a long-time napper myself, I can tell you it hasn't kept me from getting stuff done, growing and expanding. In fact for me napping in the middle of the day is a must if I want to remain productive and sane.
Now it's true we don't live in a society that encourages napping in the middle of the day. But nor do we live in a society that encourages healthy eating, following our heart in business to generate financial abundance or pondering life's deeper meaning. Does that mean we shouldn't do any of that? And rather bow to society's expectations? "Work hard, play hard," anybody? It sure hasn't worked too well for us as a country, looking at our collective state of health compared to other wealthy nations.
But since you got curious about napping I'm going to presume you are part of a sub-culture of deliberate creators striving to live life on your own terms, independently from the dictates of society.
Enter the practice of napping.
Think of it as a (very) quiet rebellion against the system. Today in the United States, it sure is.
Seemingly innocuous, napping is a potentially positively disruptive practice. And it can help you more that you ever thought in creating a business and life you love, while enjoying the ride.
From Provence to New York City -- My Experience With Napping:
Coming from a family of farmers (in the south of France), napping has always been part of my life. As a kid my parents would wake up at 5 a.m. and work until sunset. When you have that kind of schedule, napping is a necessity. All the years I lived at home, I naturally followed their rhythm, almost always lying down after lunch for a little siesta. When I moved to NYC in my late teens, I didn't stop napping. My intense training as a dancer demanded it.
Nowadays, my work as a health coach, yoga teacher and massage therapist often has me seeing clients at 8 a.m., sometimes earlier, as well as at 8 p.m., sometimes later. How am I to keep my energy strong from start to finish? By napping, of course. But even if I don't have a long day, I still nap! I relish that "me time" too much.
More than anything else, napping helps me keep everything in perspective (work, health, love, finances). And as far as I'm concerned, the best stress-relief tool is just that, perspective. It can be found through meditation, laughter and you guessed it, sleep.
Five Reasons You Should Nap:
1. To recharge your batteries:
Instead of looking for a quick and short-lived boost of energy in caffeine or sugar, go for the stable energy a nap provides.
2. To disconnect from doing, from deadlines and get back to being:
Is your life spinning so fast you sometimes don't know why you're doing what you're doing, and who's doing it? Nap. It will give you perspective.
3. To stop a momentum in an unwanted direction and reboot:
If you started your day frazzled and unfocused; spilled coffee on yourself; got stuck in traffic; arrived late at work, only to have an instant argument with a colleague; you know you've got an unhappy momentum going there. How are you going to stop it? Go to sleep!
4. To keep your mental energy clear and focused all day:
Why only have a few good hours? Napping will help you have an equally efficient and fun day from morning to evening. Bonus: You'll get to dinner time able to hold a conversation, without needing comfort foods and alcohol to unwind.
5. To slow down time!
Segmenting your day with a midday break will actually cause a shift in how you experience time. Don't you often hear people (maybe yourself too) say things like "Time is flying by!" or "OMG it's already (5 p.m.! Spring! Thanksgiving! Our anniversary! You name it). Yet we know the earth is still taking about 365 days to orbit around the sun, and about 24 hours to rotate on itself.
What do you think has changed? Our mindsets, of course. Our perception of time. By slowing you down internally, a midday nap will shift your experience of time to a slower, gentler pace. Try it.
How to Nap:
A few elements are required for successful napping.
- Be uncompromising with yourself (and others around you): This is a time out and it is yours. When you realize that nothing is so urgent that you can't take 20 minutes to relax, it's liberating.
- This one should be obvious, but please unplug all your electronic devices.
- Get comfy. Loosen your clothes. Remove your glasses. Keep yourself warm. Take your shoes off if possible. Use an eye pillow. Our sense of sight is the most stimulated of our five senses. The darkness and gentle pressure provided by the pillow will soothe tired eyes like nothing else.
- Lie down if you can. If you can't, that is okay. Find a comfortable chair, or at least try and recline.
- Put on earplugs or listen to soothing sounds. Your nervous system needs quiet to unwind and ease into sleep.
Be sure to share this article with your overworked and sleep-deprived friends. There is a momentum slowly building up in the United States these days toward more work-life balance and it's good news for all of us. Let's keep it going until napping has become a national daily habit!