Remember when you were a kid, and the adults in your life always told you to take a nap while you could? Well, now that we’re the adults in said scenario, we totally understand the sentiment.
From the moment you start adulting, naps become viewed as lazy. Practicing self-care and catching some extra Zzz’s is blasphemy! It also doesn’t support toxic hustle culture, and you know how all the self-help gurus of the world feel about that.
I’m not one to usually take a 15-minute snooze, but a while ago there was a day I was feeling like absolute trash and fell asleep unintentionally in the early afternoon. When I woke up, I felt refreshed, less cloudy, and with enough energy to finish my day and not just suffer through it. Ever since, naps have become a part of my regularly scheduled program.
As someone who suffers from insomnia and depression, I honestly always felt naps were definitely not for me. But it turns out there are some decent benefits. And here’s a PSA for anyone rolling their eyes at me right now: Napping isn’t lazy. It isn’t for the incompetent or the slackers. If anything, being self-aware enough to realize your limits and honor them is an incredibly underrated feat. *Engages in standing ovation*
Maybe you live with mental illness or chronic pain. Or maybe you’re just trying to engage in self-care to reduce your stress and elevate your mood. Either way, an early afternoon rest might be exactly what you were looking for.
Making Your Nap Work For You
Not all naps will give you the same benefit. Are you feeling run down and can’t take another step in the right direction? Or, are you in need of a moment to lie down, clear your mind, and get a quick power nap in?
According to Psychology Today, two different timelines can give you enough energy to finish your day instead of making you feel like you got hit by a truck. Depending on your schedule, aim for either a 10- to 20-minute nap or go all in for an hour and a half. Yep, that’s 90 minutes, folks.
A 10- to 20-minute nap will put the breaks on before your body enters a REM cycle. Think of this power nap as a way to power yourself through the rest of your day. If you’re looking for a deeper level of rest and relaxation, set an alarm for about 90 minutes. This allows your body to go through an entire REM cycle and wake up feeling refreshed.
Do yourself a favor and catch these Zzz’s before 3 p.m. If you close your eyes after that point, it might mess with your normal sleep cycle. Timing is everything when it comes to taking a nap. Otherwise, we all know that feeling of complete and total confusion when you wake up suddenly with all kinds of fun designs from the pillow on your face. You have no idea where the hell you are, what time it is, or why the small people in your life decided that now would be the time to ask you to cook a five-course meal.
Stop Trying To Make Hustle Culture A Norm
Just like Gretchen Wieners was never going to make ‘fetch’ happen, society needs to stop trying to make hustle culture the norm. We don’t care what your favorite self-help guru tells you, there is more to life than hustling 24/7. You don’t get a gold star for being the most run into the ground, and there is no burnout badge.
Yes, there are dishes that need washing, clothes that need folding, and food that needs cooking. We know the world doesn’t just stop turning when you take a nap. That said, know that you can’t pour from an empty cup. If you aren’t getting the sleep you need, the rest of your world (kids, partners, people who rely on you) will feel the impact in different ways. Take care of them by taking care of yourself.
Taking a nap is only one of many different forms of self-care. Some like bubble baths, some like pedicures. Personally, I’d love soaking in a bubble bath while getting a pedicure and taking a snooze (though that would have to potential to go sideways). First of all, that isn’t a realistic scenario in my day-to-day schedule. Secondly, I need a hell of a lot more support for my emotional, mental, and physical health than just bubbles and polish. Burnout is a real thing. It’s never been more apparent than in the last year and a half of living life with Covid. We’ve all experienced new levels of stress and frustration, and it’s important to account for that by taking care of yourself.
Maybe napping isn’t for you. That’s cool — I don’t understand that, but I can respect it. All I ask is that you do the same for those who need extra rest to function. Napping isn’t lazy. In fact, I’ll argue that it’s essential. Especially for different folks who live with mental and physical illnesses that challenge their bodies and minds in different ways. So, don’t forget what your momma taught ya. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all … or maybe, go take a nap and wake up on the right side of the bed instead.
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