“To feel great and look your best, get enough rest.” Cameron Diaz
The first rule of napping is, you should never feel guilty about napping.
Napping, one of life’s true, healthy and wholesome pleasures, is practically a dirty word in our society.
We’re under constant pressure to fill every second, to appear busy rather than be productive and to push through even when we’re feeling run down. But we’re not designed to always be on. We’re designed to work hard, train hard, play hard and then rest and recover with equal intensity.
It is possible to breeze through your day, starting and ending with the same level of energy and enthusiasm, but only if you generously sprinkle in mini breaks. Stealing brief moments of rest during the day to rejuvenate your mind, shift up your mood and put a spring back in your step.
This is where power napping comes in.
The Birth of the Napitation
I recently stumbled upon this technique and it’s been a revelation.
Every morning before I get out of bed, I do a 10-20 minute meditation. I find that it gives me the headspace I need to approach my day with intentionality. Rather than waking up and jumping straight into reaction mode, answering emails, solving problems and dealing with other peoples’ stuff, those first few minutes of my day are a sacred space to be quiet and listen to what’s going on inside my own mind and my own body.
I also like to meditate in the afternoon to reboot my brain and re-adjust my inner compass amidst the craziness of the day. However, I’ve started to notice a common theme. A couple of minutes into my afternoon ‘meditation’, I almost invariably fall asleep.
At first I tried to fight the waves of tiredness and heaviness behind my eyes, but then I decided to stop ignoring the clear signals my body was giving me and allow myself to fall asleep if I needed to for 5, 10 or 15 minutes. Now I’m completely hooked on this incredibly pleasurable and rejuvenating practice – the napitation – that can only be described as a graceful collision between meditation and sleep.
Put Your Mind at Rest
Due to my upbringing, my beliefs and the habits of the people around me, I still had to battle the niggling sense that napping felt wrong. That is was somehow lazy to shut my eyes and be still for 10 minutes during the middle of the day or unnatural to even need to sometimes power down. So I started looking at the research. Happily, I discovered that daily naps are clearly the smart way to go. Here are a few of the key benefits backed up by science:
- You feel less tired and have more energy.
- You don’t have to rely on coffee, soda or energy drinks to get you through the day.
- You’re more productive and get more done.
- It’s easier to stay focused on your most important task.
- You have greater willpower and self-control.
- Your decision-making skills are sharpened.
- Your cognitive abilities are enhanced.
- Your memory is improved.
- You clear space in your mind for clarity and creativity.
- You feel less anxious, overwhelmed, frustrated and irritable.
- You’re more emotionally resilient.
- You’re less likely to experience burn out.
How Long Should You Nap For?
The majority of the research points to between 10-30 minutes but even a few minutes has been shown to be beneficial. Be careful not to nap for much longer than this as it can negatively affect nighttime sleep as well as making you feel groggy or fuzzy brained.
When Should You Nap?
Schedule your nap to coincide with that early afternoon dip in energy when you can’t think straight and you’re tripping over your words. Between 1 and 4pm is optimal nap time.
How to Power Napitate
Lie down in a quiet and comfortable spot and listen to this guided napitation. As you eyes close, you’ll feel your body start to relax and your mind to slow down as you fall effortlessly into a short but sweet slumber. At the end of 20 minutes, I’ll gently bring you back, replenished and ready to bounce back into your day with renewed vigour and energy.
Hopefully, it won’t be too long before the nap police see sense and we have dedicated sleep pods and salons on every street corner, like they’ve had in Japan for 10 years!
If you’d like to download more guided meditations and napitations to listen to wherever and whenever you need to, here is the link to my new series:
This article first appeared on Cameron Diaz’s blog.
Photo credit: Paul Baker