The Secret of Taking Naps
naping flower
So many naps to take… so little time. That is my motto.

A nap is a perfect way to spend an afternoon! Or is it? Sure, there was no shame in it when you were 2 years old, or when you were ill, or pregnant, or in college. But what about now that you are 38 and healthy and have many unchecked items on your list of Things To Do? Would you dare to nap? There are many people who do. Oh yes, there are secret nappers everywhere. It could be someone you know. It could even be you!

I confess, I have spent many years as a secret napper, but it’s time to come out of the sheets. Truth be told, I have always loved napping. When I was in college, I took my classes in the morning, napped every afternoon before work. After I met my husband, my naps ended. We were so in love, and spent so much time apart at work, I didn’t want to waste my precious time with him in dreamland. However, my love for napping returned when I was pregnant. Actually, napping became an unstoppable habit. I couldn’t stay awake. No one and no thing could stop me when the “naptime ferries” called. Even during my short, 15-minute, metro bus ride to and from work, when I was at my desk in my cubicle, and in the middle of talking to my husband at night.

After I had the babies, naps went out like a dirty diaper. Like so many moms, I tried to catch up on daily work, or just enjoy the silence, while the babies slept. However, within a year, I gave in to my desires and began napping along with them. Naptimes were a part of our lives for a good 5 years. I was in heaven. I took my naps, they took their naps and best of all, other people respected our naptime. We could leave a play-date or any other activity for that matter for naptime. We did not have to answer the phone or door because of beautiful blissful naptime.

Once my children turned 3 and 6, naptime was over. No matter how hard I tried, they just didn’t want to nap during the day anymore, let alone go to sleep at night. But while they were away at school, I would sneak one in once or twice a week. This became a secret pleasure as soon as I saw the shocked reactions from my friends. They would either give me a look of envy, while telling me they would love to nap but they would feel guilty. Or they might give me a look of disbelief, while trying to tell me that they could never find time in their busy day to succumb to such a luxury. When did a nap become a luxury? Was it the industrial revolution?

When we began homeschooling our boys and they were home all day, my secret naps were at risk once more. I had to do something! I wanted to go public with my secret. I wanted my naps back! The universe answered when I found the book Take a Nap, Change Your Life! by Dr. Sara Mednick. This wonderful woman has spent her career researching naps and spreading the word about how important this dreamy activity is to our health. What she wrote changed my world. Here are just a few key points:

We are a country of sleep deprived people surviving on an average of 6 to 7 hours a night, when the least amount of sleep suggested is 8 hours per night. Lack of sleep can create physical health problems with your heart and cause diabetes, since while you sleep you actually restore your bodies healthy levels of cortisol and insulin. Lack of sleep can create a weight problem, as the more tired you are the more likely you will eat more high energy food in order to feel more alert. She has a lot more information on napping and I suggest you go to her site here:

With all the possible side effects of not getting enough sleep aside, the fact is that you just feel better when you regularly take naps. I don’t mean one of those 3 hour catch up sleeps where you can’t remember who you are when you wake up. I mean a regular nap where you sleep between 20 to 90 minutes. You will wake up feeling renewed, with more energy and more creative power.

Yes, naps are back in my life at least once or twice a week. I encourage you to try it, too! “I just can’t fall asleep,” you cry from your tired voice as you grab your afternoon coffee, black tea or chocolate treat. Don’t worry! As I always say, practice, practice, practice! I encourage you to try these techniques to begin your new sleeping routine and your new healthy lifestyle.

Meditation. Lay in bed on your back and begin to breathe deep. Close your eyes and feel the energy in your hands begin to buzz. Really connect to that feeling and allow it to flow up your arms, shoulders and chest. Then let it flow down through your legs, feet, and back. Allow it to go up through your neck and head and return to your heart. Stay in your heart while you are now breathing normally. When thoughts come, noticed them (as they like to be noticed) and then allow them to pass over like a fluffy white cloud on a windy day. Spend 20 minutes focused until you fall asleep. Whether you fall asleep or not, you will feel more relaxed, rested and peaceful when you rise from bed.

Timer. Many people are afraid to go to sleep thinking they won’t wake up. Set yourself a timer or alarm clock to ease your mind as you drift off completely. Cell phones, MP3 players, and PDA’s all have some kind of alarm you can use, if you don’t have an official alarm clock.

Extra pillows. Get comfortable. Using a pillow for your head, body and legs can give you a much more comfortable sleeping experience, and reduce tossing and turning. Back sleepers can use an extra under their thighs or knees. Side sleepers can use one to hug and one to put between your knees to reduce pressure while you sleep. Stomach sleepers can put a pillow under their ankles and feet. Allow yourself all the softness you need.

Whether you are a weekend or weekday napper, remember (and you will be able to remember well, with your increased brain function) taking naps are for you and the whole family. Once you experience the benefits of napping, you will want to tell everyone you know. One day, secret nappers might gain the social support we deserve. One day, our daytime, dreamy bliss will been held in as much esteem as our touted exercise routine.

(“What exercise routine?” you say? Let’s save that for the next Body article!)

Until then, Sweet Dreams!


Copyright 2008 by Rain Fordyce

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