The art of a nap

Among the best things in life is a relaxing, refreshing nap.

Remember when our babies would wake from a nap? Both of mine would wake from a nap all happy and sweet, their cheeks rosy and the hair on the back of their necks damp and curly. We used to make our babies take naps because we knew that sleep is good for them. If they got cranky, the best remedy was to put them down for a nap.

As adults, we don’t take enough naps. I think the business world should embrace naps and allow employees a 30-minute nap time each day. It certainly would make the world a better place.

When you do have the opportunity to take a nap, you should make sure that you make the effort to take a quality nap. What’s the difference between a nap and a quality nap? Well in my opinion a whole lot.

If you just take a regular nap, on the sofa, in a recliner or even on your bed, you are apt to experience a ho-hum nap. Sure you might have caught a few Zs, but a quality nap requires just a bit more preparation. A quality nap will leave you feeling rested, rejuvenated and offers a needed sense of well being.

Quality naps involve three things: time, comfort and calm.

First off time. You have to have the time for a nap and plan for the time you will need to take a nap. A good nap should last 20 to 60 minutes. Any more than 60 minutes and you may go into a deep sleep and could wake up feeling groggy and disoriented. Save deep sleeping for night-time. The perfect time for a nap may vary from day to day. It could be that you can plan to nap for 30 minutes of your lunch hour. It may be that the only time you can nap is on weekends, so be sure to plan the time for your nap. On Saturdays, I generally plan for a nap about 4 to 5 p.m. On Sundays, I like to nap after lunch.

Second of all, a quality nap requires comfort. I have a settee in my office that I used to use for napping. However it was awfully uncomfortable. I’d have to squish up and I’d often wake up with a crick in my neck. Plus it’s in my office, where I’m apt to think jump up to take a call or answer an e-mail. 

As well, I don’t recommend that you nap in your bedroom. That’s where I sleep at night, and if I nap there, I’m apt to sleep too long. My perfect nap room is our guest room, which I have purposely made nap ready. When I go into the guest room to take a nap, I lie on the bed but I don’t pull down the covers. I have a nap blanket that is just the right weight for napping. I push the pillow shams aside and use a firm pillow covered in an ultra soft pillow case. I switch on the ceiling fan so the temperature is just right. I shut the blinds and sometimes, if it’s really bright outside, I will close the curtains as well.

Calm is the third element of a good nap. The environment in which you have to nap is important to the quality of the nap. Now some people can nap with the television on or the radio playing soft music. I cannot take a quality nap with either of these on, especially the television. While I might doze while watching the television, a quality nap cannot be had with the television on, or even muted. I find when I take a nap with the television on, I wake up a lot and tend to hear what’s being said on the television. So it’s important to have a nap space that is calm. I prefer the whir of the ceiling fan. Before I nap, I like to do a couple of simple stretching exercises — reaching my arms to the ceiling and getting up on my tip toes as well as bending down to touch my fingers to my toes. It’s also nice to do a neck and shoulder roll before climbing into the bed for a nap. The goal is to assure a calm, comfortable place for a nap. I use the guest room because the living room couch is too busy a place. There’s nothing worse than having the time for a quality nap and to have it interrupted. Find a place that’s calm, cool and comfortable.

There’s one more thing about preparing for a quality nap and that’s what you should wear during a nap. I generally nap in the clothes I’m wearing for the day, most likely work-out clothes or sweats. Any type of binding clothing or too much clothing can hamper your nap. I know some people who keep a t-shirt and soft pair of shorts or pajama pants under the pillow of their nap room. Again, it’s all about comfort.

I generally don’ t have to set an alarm clock when it comes to napping. I usually fall asleep quickly and wake up 30 to 40 minutes later feeling refreshed and relaxed. To take a quality nap, you may have to work on relaxing your mind and calming your thoughts. I can generally do this through relaxed breathing and visualizing a place that is secure, safe and peaceful. Prayer is also a good prelude to a nap. Whatever it takes, you have to figure a way to let go, banish your worries and  rest your mind so that that soft sleepy feeling can take over.

I will write more about naps in future posts. I never knew there was so much to say about a nap.

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