Napping is our first line of defence against any feelings of fatigue. It’s free, easy, natural and can leave you rested and refreshed.
However if overused napping can leave us feeling drowsy, spaced out and even throw off our sleep cycle.
So what’s the trick to getting it right?
Read on and I’ll share what I’ve learnt in my extended love affair with the nap.
The first decision to make is what type of nap you are going for.
Option 1 – The Lie Down
The quick 5-15 minute lie down or relaxation time without actually falling asleep.
Option 2 – The Cat Nap
The 20 min sleep. Perhaps cut short by the use of an alarm.
Option 3 – The Winston Churchill
The sleep until you wake up method. This is usually anywhere from 30 mins to 1 hour. Made famous by Britain’s eccentric leader from the 1940’s. “You must sleep some time between lunch and dinner. That’s what I always do….When the war started, I had to sleep during the day because that was the only way I could cope with my responsibilities.” Winston Churchill
Right on Winston. If he beat the Nazi’s with a nap or two we can beat CFS/ME the same way I’m sure! Bruce Campbell certainly thinks so. Learn how pre-emptive rests were the secret weapon in his recovery from CFS.
While each option has it’s place I tend to be an advocate of The Lie Down (often having a few each day). I use Cat Naps when ever necessary and resort to the Winston Churchill when times are tough. While a full on sleep in the afternoon can provide me more energy particularly later on in the evening it also has a habit of throwing off my sleep cycle. In my experience this makes for later nights and less sleep throughout the night often requiring longer naps the following day. A pattern which can be tough to break and even tougher to integrate into daily routine. Also on waking from a Winston Churchill I often feel very spaced out for anywhere up to 90 minutes afterwards. I’m not great company and can often get a little bored or frustrated as I don’t have enough energy to actually do anything but I don’t want to stay in bed, a perfect breeding ground for negative thoughts to creep in.
When it works a good Cat Nap can be amazing but I often find it hard to actually get up and usually want to keep on sleeping. So this requires setting an alarm (music for me) and hopping straight up when it goes off, but setting an alarm is usually that little bit to much to ask when I’m on my way to nap time.
So that leaves us in the realm of the Lie Down. The beauty of these is you can have as many as you want and it won’t disturb your sleep later on. Lie Downs can involve:
- Breathing or relaxation exercises. I focus on breathing deeply below my navel. Here’s a link to an easy Yogic breathing exercise you can do before a nap or rest to calm you down.
- Listening to some relaxing music (I prefer a bit of classical or spaced out Electronica) and even
- An accessory or two (I often wear an eye mask filled with husk seeds and use essential oils).
So now that you’ve selected your nap of choice the next question is under the sheets? Or just on top?
Personally I’m an on top man. If I’m ‘in bed’ there seems to be a different psychology involved, as once I’m in it’s hard to get me out.
- Make it easy for your self by preparing things in advance. Make your bed, have a piece of music ready to go or pre-set an alarm etc. It is too easy to keep putting off your daily rest until the opportunity is missed and you end up exhausted.
- Keep your bedroom (or other nap space) clean and tidy at all times.This made a huge difference in my life and is a priority for me each morning. Let in the light, some fresh air and even an inspiring picture or two. Not only does it bring a peaceful energy into your napping experience, it also wards off any feelings of sadness that can occur when you starting spend alot of time in a messy environment.
So you’ve just woken up? What now?
I’ve discovered three ways to rejoin the land of the living after a nap.
If possible look directly into the sun for a couple of seconds. It seems to send a signal into your brain that it’s day time and gets your system going again.
Drink a glass or two of water and splash some cold water on your face and on the back of your neck..
Shake your face like a dog and loosen up the muscles. Massage your temples and you should be ready to rock and roll!
Got some skills when it comes to napping?