Favorite Things: Blissful Naps

Woman nappingI haven’t napped since kindergarten. Back then, every day after mid-morning snack, the soft, thick mats were pulled out of the big closet and laid on the classroom floor. We kindergarteners would lie down in the quiet, darkened room for a blissful half-hour nap.

After kindergarten, naps gradually evaporated and finally disappeared entirely from the landscape of life. They were fondly remembered like an absent loved one. Our modern lives didn’t seem to have a place for them. We were always doing one thing or another all day long. The household was rarely quiet enough for long enough to fall asleep. We did all of our sleeping at night. Then as we grew older, the length of a night’s sleep diminished. Who had time? We worked harder and longer. We had outside interests. We gained and lost spouses. We had children. Twenty four hours wasn’t enough to get daily life done.

Fast forward through 60 years of modern life to three months ago when my health care provider asked me how many hours I sleep each night. Between four and six, said I. Her eyebrows rose, there was a pause and she said I should be getting at least seven hours and preferably more. Eight to ten is optimal. She said I should sleep more at night and take naps during the day. Even ten minute naps are good. My eyebrows rose. Naps during the day? Really? Yes, said she. More sleep is good for overall health and wellbeing. I’ll feel better and my energy level will improve.

That seemed like a worthwhile reason to try it. So far, I’ve increased hours of sleep to between five and a half and seven hours. I’ve had to eighty six a couple of habits and replace them with others that support more sleep. No caffeine after lunch helps. So does a relaxed stroll in the evening and a snack not long before bedtime. Some people can’t eat before bedtime because it wakes them up. Do whichever works best for you.

I’ve had to relearn how to nap. The kindergarten model is working well. I leave time in the early afternoon after lunch but before 3pm. I have a snack, close the blinds and turn off both phone ringers. Soft instrumental music or a romantic comedy at low volume is soothing. I picked Gosford Park. I’ve seen it many times, so I don’t have to pay attention to the story. It becomes white noise. Then I climb into bed, pull up the covers and let myself drift off.

It’s been three months of sleeping more at night and napping during the day and I notice my energy and sense of wellbeing are better. Naps have become one of my favorite things. This could get to be a habit.

Do you nap? What effect has it had on your health and wellbeing? What helps you to sleep?

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