Did you know that an estimated 83.6 million adults in the U.S. are sleep deprived? Of course, you know that because you are maybe one of them? I could be one, too, but I’m lucky.
I’m a dedicated master-napper – probably because I had excellent role-models in my parents. Which also strengthens the idea that you can learn how to nap. I can plop down anywhere, anytime in any circumstances and get myself a little shut-eye while forgetting everything around me.
I have napped draped over my first laptop in New York’s 42nd Street Public Library (only to be woken up by the very strict guard), snored softly in airports on the floor, in the back of cars, disappeared in strangers’ bedrooms during too long dinner parties, took naps while visiting girlfriends, dozed off in hammocks, on beaches, in parks, on benches. I don’t care. When I’m tired, I’m tired and I make a quick assessment of my situation and come up with a plan that allows me to lie down somewhere.
As I said, the knack for napping runs in the family. My father, an advertisement executive, was especially clever – and a trailblazer (in the early sixties) when it came to actually admitting that he was tired – seen as a certain weakness in a man. He simply locked his office after 2 p.m. for an hour, told his secretary to say he was out, and was lying down for a snooze, just like the honchos in “MAD MEN”.
My Mom also loved to sleep, and when it was suspiciously silent in the house, we kids would find her somewhere rolled up like a cat napping away.
My sister and I are the same way, and although we don’t have much else in common, we marvel at that skill that seems so small and simple but turned out to be a perfect drug-free tool for staying healthy.
Most people I know can’t nap and are secretly envious of all the carefree nappers around them.
Famous insomniacs like Marilyn Monroe and Madonna, Vincent van Gogh and Bill Clinton, Margret Thatcher and Arianna Huffington have supposedly tried everything, mostly either popping pills or filling the waking hours working like crazy. Some female executives declared sleep deprivation a “feminine” issue, (because they are overworked and underpaid maybe?) but what is definitely true is that not getting enough sleep isn’t exactly a beauty booster, and for vain women like me, having dark circles under my eyes is enough reason to erase that un-chic fatigued look with a refreshing nap.
To become a Master-Napper you need to prepare yourself mentally first by creating a nap-friendly culture.
Here are my 10 steps towards happy napping.
- Problem sleepers have the tendency to whine and blame. That has to stop! Get out of the “victim” mode and declare yourself the victorious ruler over your sleeping pattern.
- Associate napping with positive feelings. Reach deep inside you and search for the warm and cozy spot that reminds you of a protected childhood (hopefully you had one). Didn’t that feel good?
- Don’t be ashamed to be tired! A large part of any kind of good sleep is surrendering to your body and giving up the fight.
- “Risking” a nap show self-love and great confidence. Stop treating you like a well-oiled machine! You don’t need to prove toughness. Resting body and mind shows strength not weakness.
- A nap is a present to you. Lie down. Close your eyes. Breathe. Feel foxy and brave. Smile. Doze off.
- Think of all the others who are racing around, drinking 5 cups of coffee while texting, talking, sweating, thinking, planning and grinding their teeth – all the while you are napping like a baby next door.
- Napping means prepping. You are the smart one because while you nap your brain gets a boost and works much better after a rest.
- Don’t nap more than 35 minutes, after that it can be hard to get back into activities because you might feel disoriented or groggy.
- If you work in an office (where you plan to nap – and can lock the door) rehearse napping at home a few times. You might feel safer there and can prepare for the greater challenge in a busy office.
- Once you become a certified napper, get yourself a pretty nap-kit containing earplugs (very important, I think) and a real nice silk sleeping mask. And don’t leave home without it. It will become as important as your lipstick!
Undress, darken the room, but not too much, you don’t want to lose touch with daylight.
…and my very personal nap-tips and tricks: I’m a bit obsessed with unwanted noise. I need silence and therefor carry around German earplugs (the best) and a cute sleeping mask when I travel. I take off some clothes, mostly pants, skirts, and when I’m at home I even take off all clothes. It is like showing my commitment to the nap. Kids need their security blanket– I need earplugs and a sleeping mask.