Makeover Monday: Zzzzzzz

A subject near and dear to my heart: napping!

Over the past few years, I’ve read lots of news reports about this study or that project that proved the necessity of a good nap for restoring cognitive abilities, reducing stress, and providing boosts of energy. I could’ve saved them all a load of time and money by giving them my family history.

I come from a long line of midday nappers. Big family dinners on Sundays were always followed by an hour or so of “quiet time”, when everyone found a horizontal (or semi-horizontal) place to “rest their eyes” for a little while. Maybe that’s why our family gatherings never had any drama. We napped!

Not everyone benefits from napping, of course. A lot depends on how long you nap and how you move through the various stages of sleep. (You can find out more about those here.) A good nap will usually last between 20-30 minutes or 90-120 minutes, to avoid interrupting your natural sleep cycles. The easiest thing you can do is to experiment with napping to find the optimum time for you to wake feeling refreshed and energized.

I haven’t noticed length of time making a big difference in my naps. For me, it’s more about *how* I nap. Here’s my napping technique (patent pending):

-a cool, dark place
-a horizontal surface (my father naps in his recliner; a friend naps at lunchtime sitting up in his truck. Me? I’ve gotta be horizontal.)
-a late morning or early afternoon nap time. ( I wake up early and go to bed fairly early, so my sluggish time is usually midday. If you’re a night owl, your ideal nap time might be mid- to late afternoon.)
-television or music on low to mask neighborhood noises (and a pox on the neighbor who mows his lawn in the middle of my nap!)
-optional: an alarm (if I’m feeling particularly exhausted, or if I have a to do list that hasn’t been touched, I’ll set an alarm so that I don’t sleep the day away.)

And that’s my napping process. I accomplished it twice this weekend (in the interest of research, you know.) So far, I haven’t mastered napping during the workweek. I’m always too worried that I won’t wake up in time to get back to the office.

One thing I’ve noticed since…well, since I started noticing these things is that when I’m sleepy or super tired, I tend to snack more. Napping seems to help with that. I suppose it’s part diversionary technique and partially related to energy reserves.

Any other confirmed nappers out there? Tips? Techniques? Funny stories that will make us laugh with you, not at you?