Why The Power of Naps Is Undeniable
When you were a kid, naps were the last thing you wanted to do. They were a horrible form of punishment that removed you from being awake to enjoy your toys and forced you to sit in a room all alone in the dark. They were torture, and any baby or toddler can testify that nap time is the worst time (you learn that the hard way when you babysit).
But now, being a working adult who is constantly tired, naps have become this beautiful thing that are now a cherished moment. Getting to lay down after a seemingly endless day of work or school feels like you’ve just won the lottery of time accompanied with a complimentary pillow and after-nap snack.
We envy the preschoolers of today and mentally slap ourselves for not appreciating the nap times we were forcefully granted in our younger years. Naps are presents, naps are love, naps are our missing puzzle piece.
Should Adults Be Napping?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, humans are a specific type of sleeper called “monophasic,” meaning that we have two states of consciousness during the day: wakefulness and sleeping. We are designed to stay awake without interruption until we return to bed for our phase of sleep. But is this truly applicable?
When you think about it, naps are generally recommended for children and elderly folks. And this monophasic sleep schedule can only seem possible if you actually get in the recommended 8 hours of sleep every night. On average, Americans are only getting in about 6.5. Yet never is it emphasized that adults take a daily nap after lunch or in between classes to make up for this sleep deficit. This leaves the adult population pulling through each day as if it were the amazing race, no matter how tired they are.
Students and working professionals turn to shots of 5-hour energy shots and constant cups of coffee because getting in a small session of sleep is to be assumed lazy and unattainable. We’ve subconsciously programmed our minds into thinking that naps are only for emergencies when in fact, naps can be a good thing, despite our supposed classification as monophasic mammals.
What A Nap Can Do
It’s easy to admit that some days, you can’t help but surrender to your couch for a moment of stillness. Sometimes you just can power through the day, and a nap may just be the perfect remedy for a tired person. The Mayo Clinic reports various nap benefits including relaxation, reduced fatigue, and improved levels of alertness.
However, napping can do more harm than good in some cases. You may feel groggy after a nap that lasted too long, or you may not be able to get to sleep at bedtime because you napped too late in the day. A nap can do wonders for an exhausted soul, but they have to be done correctly. There’s a reason pre-school nap times occurred around 12pm.
How To Nap
Keep it short. A nap lasting around 20 minutes is ideal because it allows enough time to rejuvenate while preventing a feeling of drag for the rest of the day. A few hours may sound nice until you wake up and wish you never indulged so heavily.
The NSF also describes three different types of napping: planned, emergency, and habitual. When you plan a nap, you’re actually getting tucked in before the wave of exhaustion ever hits you. Emergency napping is getting in a sleep session after reaching a point of no return that almost begs for a moment of silence. Habitual napping is simply napping at the same time every day (everyone’s fantasy). To pull it all together, a good nap schedule is one that is short, consistent, and used when need. Nap time is not the place for spontaneity. It’s serious business.
Naps For All
Naps are great and are extremely beneficial at any age. If done correctly, you can improve your day with one quick power nap instead of powering through and half-assing your way to bedtime. It really sucks that they don’t hold value in the workplace or school system, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t do wonders for your health. Just be sure to nap smart.