Nap Tips

Whoa, I am seriously out of the practice of blogging, and intend to get back to it, right now. A busy summer combined with many deadlines for other writing work meant a new routine. I still don’t have the hang of things even though school’s been in a month already, but I’m going to give it a go.

With limited time, items on my to-do list get removed in favor of others (as writing for my weblog has, of late), and this provides useful insight into what I value. Yes, of course, there’s always the fooling-around-on-Facebook factor, but in general, if I have a few things to get done a day, the list will go something like this:

1. Food
2. Sleep/Nap
3. Work
4. Reading

On some days, I would probably put sleep ahead of food.

I wasn’t always like this. Most of my life I considered myself incapable of napping. I would go and go and go until I collapsed. Even having a child didn’t make much of a dent in this. I tried to nap, but didn’t know how. Instead, I drank more coffee. But when I was pregnant with my second child, and my first was a toddler? THEN I finally needed to nap. So I practiced. I learned. And I got good at it. Both kids have stopped napping, but I try to have one every day. I am certain that even this small bit of extra rest is good for my body and mind. Here are a few of the things that help me to nap.

1. Lay down at a regular time. 12:30 to 1:30 is a good ballpark. Much later and you risk interfering with night time sleep.

2. Plan a light rest, not a marathon. You and your body benefit from reaching the second stage of sleep, not deep sleep. Twenty to thirty minutes is a good amount of time.

3. Quiet your mind. Turn off the TV, radio, computer. Read a little. Loosen restrictive clothing. Here’s a technique that works for me: Close your eyes. In your head, name five sounds that you hear. Next, name five things that you feel. Open your eyes, and name five things you see. Now repeat this cycle from four, to three, to two, to one. The person who taught me this technique swore that by the time I got to one I’d be asleep. I’ve proved her wrong more than once, but not very often. This is a good meditation to slow down my monkey mind.

4. Set an alarm if you’re worried about missing something. Give yourself about thirty minutes. Resting the body and trying to quiet the mind, even if you don’t fall asleep, are beneficial.

5. Hack a nap. Drink an ounce of lukewarm coffee or tea. Lie down, try to fall asleep, and twenty to thirty minutes later you’ll wake as the caffeine hits your system. I’ve seen this called a caf-nap or nappuccino. I’ve tried it. The benefit is I wake alert and ready to go. The downside is sometimes it’s harder to drop off to sleep, and I don’t get to enjoy the coffee.

6. Practice. Napping is a skill. Sleep is important. Don’t give up.

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