The power behind a well-timed snooze
It’s a radical idea to rest throughout the day, it’s the ultimate letting go.
It’s a radical idea to rest throughout the day, it’s the ultimate letting go. It requires flexibility, being connected to how you feel and a sense of safety. I’m re-writing how I view naps and rest from being a sign of weakness, to being a sign of self-respect and intuition. To be honest, I didn’t really know how to nap. Do I go to bed and draw the curtains? Do I change into my PJs? How do I stop people from taking embarrassing selfies with me whilst I’m unconscious? Oh, the superficial problems!
My wonderful friend Mary, can nap anywhere, anytime. The first time I saw her do it was at her own party, it was as if she transformed into a spandex superhero and started levitating. In some way, her act gave me permission to see naps as a regular part of life.
I’ve been experimenting with napping instead of taking (socially-acceptable) uppers to get me through the day. Some days, I put the timer on for 15 minutes and my mind goes into cruise control, other times, I snooze without realising and wake up refreshed.
When you have a stressful reaction, you can lean on maladaptive coping that’s either self-destructive (over-working, hyperactivity, eating too much) or depending on substances to keep you ticking on (drugs, alcohol, caffeine, herbs, quick foods). These things have knock on effects.
When faced with something stressful, having a short nap or meditation is a way to break yourself out of the pattern with no detrimental side-effects. It’s a wonderful, free thing that requires a place to sit or lie, that’s it. It’s a habit that expands its reaches the more comfortable you are with it: nap in a chair against a wall, the car, the grass outside.
Apart from reducing sleepiness, naps can also improve learning, aid your brain’s ability to make memories and regulate emotions. A power nap of 10-20 minutes can be just as restorative as a double shot espresso, but it has a calming, grounding effect that increases your focus, and well, just see what caffeine does to spiders.
Napping as a cultural norm - let’s bring it back.
While Spain has started to lose its siesta culture, napping is still going strong in South East Asia. When I was visiting an office in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, I was pleasantly surprised to see that at the dedicated lunchtime hour, staff had two options: nap or play video games. Count me in for both.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of a mindfulness program taught in hospitals around the world, writes in Full Catastrophe Living “It’s very useful to find out how you might use the twenty-four hours you have each day in the way that works best for you. And you can only find this out by listening carefully to your mind and your body and letting them teach you what you need to know.”
How wonderful would it be if we checked in on our energy levels throughout the day and napped accordingly?