How To Take A Nap
- Recognize that you are sleepy. Or that you need a break. Maybe you’d like to feel refreshed for the second half of your day. Whatever your reasoning, acknowledge that you’d like to take a nap.
- Forget about feeling guilty. Let that go. If you want to rest, rest. If somewhere deep inside of you there lives a belief that says, ‘adults don’t sleep during the day, only four year olds do that,’ let that go (and you may want to examine where that comes from – later – not during naptime, of course. 😉 ) Or, if you are worried that taking a break and resting for a little bit will throw off your productivity, try it and see what happens. My prediction is that the earth won’t fly off it’s axis and your life will be mostly the same as it was before you laid down to take a nap.
- Pick the perfect time. You know that time, somewhere in the middle of the afternoon, when you’re dying to get horizontal and close your eyes. That’s the time. For me, that sweet spot is somewhere between 2 – 4 pm (and it probably is for a lot of other people too). Going much later than 4pm for a nap, except in extenuating circumstances, leaves me feeling groggy for longer than I want. So I try to keep my napping to the mid-afternoon. You may be different. Just find your own sweet spot.
- Pick the perfect spot. My preferred place to nap is on the couch in my living room, with a blanket. This doesn’t always work if there are other people occupying the living room, however. Sometimes I’ll nap in my bed, but oddly enough, I don’t prefer my bed for napping. Also, you may need to get creative if you’re not at your house and you want to nap. When I’m at work, and go out for lunch, I’ll sometimes see people sitting in their cars in the multi-level garage where I park with their eyes closed, presumably napping. Maybe not the most ideal spot, but it gets the job done. I do something similar except I drive to a nearby park first. It’s really peaceful there and I can see green things like trees and grass. 😉 I don’t always fall asleep, but that’s OK. Closing my eyes in the middle of the day is luxury enough.
- Set a timer. I used to just free-form my naps. Meaning that I laid down, fell asleep and woke up when I woke up. I might have set an alarm if I had to get up and do something, but otherwise I just let my body fall asleep and wake up when it wanted to. Now, however, I find it better to actually set a timer for napping. I’ll usually set it for twenty minutes. It’s amazing how refreshed I feel after being asleep for only five or ten minutes. (I don’t usually fall asleep right away when I nap, and sometimes I don’t actually fall asleep at all.) It might seem like five or ten minutes of sleep isn’t worth anything, but I beg to differ. Sleeping too long in the afternoon will leave me groggier than I would like. I want to rest and feel refreshed, not feel like my nap is dragging behind me the rest of the day, so timing it is the way to go.
- Don’t fret if you don’t fall asleep. Even when I don’t fall asleep, I find my naps refreshing. Just getting to be quiet, still, and comfortable while closing my eyes is fantastic. And if I do sleep, that’s just icing on the cake. If you lay down and have a lot of thoughts, don’t worry, when you notice you’re having one, gently let it go and bring your awareness back to your body in some way. Don’t turn nap time into some kind of competition or goal. Don’t try to be efficient. Nap time is never wasted even if you’re not sleeping.
- Do it again. If you found your nap to be enjoyable and refreshing, do it again another day. Make it a part of your routine, even. Dare to sleep in the middle of the day. Even if only four year olds are supposed to do that. 🙂