This Spring/Summer has come on with a blast. We have been catapulted from the couch to the tennis courts, from the kitchen to the grill and from warm red wines to crispy whites. We are off stationary bikes and onto road bikes, kayaking against strong harbor currents vs. ramped up tension settings on our gym rowing machines. Our lettuce comes from our freshly raked garden instead of the plastic box. And, it has taken just a few weekends to embrace outdoors life again in all its glory.
Friends show up for impromptu dinners, and group cooking winds it’s way into late night dinners. Weekend guests abound and our lives feel full again.
And all feels great until — slam, we realize that our schedules have out-stretched our energy and we desperately need to head for the couch. As we settle into the Sunday New York Times our lids go heavy – we find ourselves in a deep snore when curled up with a late afternoon book.
There’s no escaping it, we are desperate for a nap.
According to The National Sleep Foundation, “A short nap of 20-30 minutes can help improve mood, alertness and performance.”
Up until (like last week), I’d never given myself permission to nap. I power through heavy lids until I am giddy with exhaustion or I can’t string a sentence together. Napping has always felt like an indulgence.
I just can’t imagine leaving a roomful of people to go to a quiet corner for a nap. It sounds like something “elderly” do. But, it turns out that not all nappers are over-age. In fact, there are some really famous nappers in the textbooks including: Winston Churchill, JKF, Ronald Regan, Einstein and Thomas Edison.
Aside from not wanting to join the rank of elder nappers, I have always perceived it as incredibly unproductive. Hey if I nap, then I won’t get the laundry done, or finish my photo albums or I won’t get in 20 minutes of afternoon writing, or return those calls I never seem to get to. Napping means giving up 20-30 minutes and “losing” a precious piece of the day.
But my body has been screaming for a nap lately. And last weekend I gave in. I joined my guests on the couch who were watching afternoon baseball and closed my eyes for 20 minutes. I awoke refreshed. The next day I put in a load of laundry and lay down with my book for 20 minutes between cycles and snoozed. Again, I felt rejuvenated. I was way more alert, way more productive an hour post-napping.
So this summer, I’ve decided to give myself permission to nap. I’m adjusting the way I think about naps –reframing my attitude. I’ve even crafted 6 napping visuals to encourage me to go for the 20-30 minutes time-out:
- A nap is like a meal – once I’ve fully digested its benefits – I will be able to draw on the energy I have fed myself.
- A nap is a rest for my eyes which unless closed are focused on fine print, computer screens, chasing balls and the eyes of those I am listening to.
- A nap is a reprieve for my muscles and joints that inevitably ache and need a break from the gluttony of excessive summer playtime activities.
- A nap is a rest for my busy mind, which attaches to every conversation and distraction like a dog chasing a ball.
- A nap is a moment of quiet which allows me to pause during the day – and breathe in the richness of my world.
- A nap is a way to harness the runaway advance of time – and take charge by saying “I’m in charge of the next 20 minutes.”
What about you — Are you a napper?