Remember how much you hated naps as a kid? They were mandatory, although they were more so for the adults who needed a break from all of our hyperactivity than they were for us!
But as we grew older, there was less and less time for rest, let alone naps. We go about our days rushing around, running errands, working, taking care of family, finding time to eat, and then and only then, spazz out for a little sleep before we start this routine all over again.
In one study (an informal one where I questioned my closest friends LOL), the number one excuse for not taking a nap is lack of time.
I know, I know. Who has time to go to sleep during the day? You have way too much on your plate right? I thought the same thing but I found that I now have MORE time since I’ve started taking naps and timed rests throughout the day than when I didn’t.
Ironic, eh? But it’s true.
There’s plenty of research that talks about the benefits of naps so I won’t go into all the science here but what I will offer you is my experience in the hopes that you test it out for yourself to help simplify your daily routine, streamline your tasks, and increase your productivity tenfold!
From a Pinched Nerve to Zen and Blissful Rest Times
A couple of weeks ago, I somehow pinched my sciatic nerve and at my doctor’s recommendation, I went to see a chiropractor. Fortunately, I found one that specializes in holistic health and not just deal with my back pain that resulted from the nerve issues.
She prescribed me three, yes three, 20 minutes rest periods every day and to put a pillow under my knees and showed me how to position my pillow behind my head for maximum spine health.
I thought to myself, how in the heck am I going to be able to take 3 rest breaks a day?!
But because I value my spine and want to make sure I don’t do anymore damage to my aging body, I made the commitment to do so.
Here’s what my routine is currently: my first 20 minute rest is actually after my morning workout, which is great because my body is prime for a rest period! I take this time to mentally plan my day, work on decreasing chatter in my brain, or simply listen to some of soothing, light nature sounds to drown out other noise around me.
Note: The pillow under the knees trick really helps me feel more relaxed!
The second 20 minute rest is actually my planned nap where I turn off the lights, set my timer, and try to drift off to sleep. I don’t always go to sleep but I purposely don’t use this time to think about anything or have much mental chatter. I find that this one is best after I’ve eaten a light lunch.
My last 20 minute rest period is prep time for sleep. This is when I wind down at night, turn off devices, close down the laptop, and simply be. I even consciously put good thoughts in my head to hopefully create sweet dreams!
Since starting this routine, I have found a huge boost in my productivity (because I am more rested in the afternoon and work more efficiently throughout the day), have more mental clarity (as I’m more alert), and of course have more energy (where before I would be hella tired in the afternoons).
Laziness works. And the simple way to incorporate its health benefits into your life is simply to take a nap. -Tom Hodgkinson
The Art of Smart, Blissful Naps/Rests
So I’m not telling you to take three 20 minute naps or even that many rests per day but at least try to get in one session. Here are some tips to ensure you get a blissful nap or rest break in your busy day.
1. The shorter the better. 20 to 30 minutes is all you need. Anything longer and you might feel worse and anything shorter might not be enough to really reap the benefits.
2. Time it. Set a timer for the optimal nap time frame. Because you know you will be awakened by the alarm, you won’t have that worry of oversleeping on your head, which can prevent a restful nap.
3. Keep it dark and quiet. If you have loud noises around you and bright lights, needless to say, you may not be able to actually rest well or fall asleep. So find yourself a nice quiet, cool, and dark spot to nap in. You might also want to grab some earplugs and an eye mask if you have to.
4. Trial and error. Even with all of the research out there about how and when to take smart naps, it boils down to what works for you. It may take you a while for your body to get used to the new cycle. So try different times and methods to figure out your nap mojo.
We all know that napping is a smart and productive thing to do. Not only can a nap help you become more efficient but it also refreshes your mind and helps you to live a healthier life overall!