One of my guiltiest pleasures is napping. I tell myself that my napping habit is reprehensible for a number of reasons. Napping is for babies, college kids, and elderly people. Napping is self-indulgent – something one does on vacation. Time spent napping could be spent cleaning house, exercising, studying, or writing a blog. All of these statements are true, but you know what else? Napping can be really good for you. For those of us suffering from excessive daytime sleepiness napping is a must to keep us from falling asleep at the wheel.
What’s so great about napping? Well, besides taking off my shoes, putting up my feet, clutching my snuggly-wuggly pillow, and closing my eyes to drift away to dreamland, lots of stuff. A short burst of sleep can relax you, help you better cope with stress, and allow you to push the reset button in the middle of your day. It can improve alertness and performance and reduce mistakes made at work or more importantly while driving.
What are the risks of napping? There aren’t many, but you can suffer excessive grogginess, called sleep inertia, if you sleep for too long. You can also impair your nighttime sleep schedule if you nap too late in the day. The ideal power nap is from 10-30 minutes in duration. Beyond that and you may make yourself sleepier than before.
If you struggle to stay awake in the late morning or early to mid afternoon, you might benefit from a short siesta. If you’re fighting to stay awake while out on the road, you can augment your nap by drinking a cup of coffee just prior to drifting off to sleep – it takes 20-30 minutes for the stimulant effects of caffeine to kick in.
What we’re really pointing at with the emphasis on napping is the extreme importance of sleep. Your brain needs to rest in order for you to think clearly, deal with your emotions, relate to people in a healthy way, maintain balanced hormones and be at your best. If you can find the place and the time to carve out a snooze during your day, indulge. There’s no need to feel guilty – you may be doing everybody a big favor. Nap on!
Click here for a review of some famous nappers. (I so wanted a famous rapper to be on this list.)
Melanie Lane, MD CPCC is a motivational speaker, founder of Zing! Living and the author of The Nine Daily Habits of Healthy People. She is a Board-Certified Family Physician, Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, Third Degree Black Belt in Kung Fu and formerly overweight person. Visit Dr. Lane at http://www.ZingLiving.com.