Okay. Let’s act like this is a round of Jeopardy.
Here’s the answer:
* You’ve had a good day.
* You’ve had a bad day.
* You’re home early.
* It is cold and dreary out.
* It is sunny out—and you have a hammock.
* You just ate.
* You won’t eat for a couple hours.
* You just finished a big task.
* You have a big task on your to-do list.
* Just because.
* Why not?
THE QUESTION: What are perfectly good reasons for taking a nap?
Like you need a reason for a nap!
As adults, we recognize that babies nap almost all the time. And we insist on naps for the kids as they grow up. Daycares and kindergartens typically have a nap time scheduled right after lunch. But somewhere along the way, naps stop. Teens avoid them, unless you count sleeping-in as a nap. Eventually, once we reach the age of about 30 or so, adults wise up and again recognize the value and fun of the simple act of taking a nap. Dad always demonstrated the art of nap taking when we were kids, but he blamed it on the chair! [There might be more truth to his musings than we realized back then—see The Great Menace by Year-Struck.]
Since 1999, there has even been a National Nap Day! It is the Monday after changing the clocks for Daylight Saving Time. [Don’t get me started on losng an hour of sleep again!] This holiday was proposed by Dr. William Anthony when he was a professor at Boston University and founding partner of The Napping Company. According to Anthony, “Our goal is to encourage folks to take a nap wherever they may be, at home, at the workplace or on vacation, and to make it a regular part of their healthy lifestyle.” Research clarifies the benefits of taking a nap:
- Boosts Alertness
- Increases Learning and Memory
- Improves Creativity
- Increases Productivity
- Lifts the Napper’s Spirits
- Reduces Stress
With so many good reasons for taking a nap, wouldn’t it make sense to practice this activity every day? Heck, animals make it look so easy. Overall, it seems more a natural behavior than a learned activity. Even though few businesses encourage napping as part of the work day, creative employees can make effective use of lunch breaks and lulls between meetings for grabbing a quick nap. Whether at work, at home, or on vacation, Harvard Health Letter (November 2009) offers a few tips on how to take the best nap ever.
- Keep it short: About 30 to 40 minutes is ideal, but even as short as 10 or so can help.
- Find a dark, quiet, cool place: Any location works, but these three traits are conducive to falling asleep.
- Plan on it: Of course, we all just doze off at times, but if nap time is part of a regular routine, it will be a more efficient use of time.
- Time your caffeine: It is best to coordinate rests with the boost in energy provided by typical pick-me-ups like coffee or chocolate.
- Don’t feel guilty: Remember naps are linked to increased productivity and creativity.
Given the obvious importance of naps if one wants to stay alert, creative, and productive, I think I will add “Improving My Napping Techniques” to my ongoing to-do list. How about you? Do you regularly nap? What advice can you give?
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No day is so bad it can’t be fixed with a nap. Carrie Snow
There is more refreshment and stimulation in a nap, even of the briefest, than in all the alcohol ever distilled. Edward Lucas
I count it as a certainty that in paradise, everyone naps. Tom Hodgkinson
A day without a nap is like a cupcake without frosting. Terri Guillemets
Naps are nature’s way of reminding you that life is nice – like a beautiful, softly swinging hammock strung between birth and infinity. Peggy Noonan
Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap. Barbara Jordan
Racism isn’t born, folks, it’s taught. I have a two-year-old son. You know what he hates? Naps! End of list. Denis Leary
I catnap now and then, but I think while I nap, so it’s not a waste of time. Martha Stewart