The NAP Attack!

In our society, sleep is considered a sign of weakness. How many times have you heard someone say, ‘I only need 4 hours of sleep a night’ or ‘I can go to bed late and wake up early and make it through as long as I have lots of coffee’ or even, ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead’? I have been known to say that last one myself when I’ve wanted to celebrate an event late in the evening hours rather than calling it a night, at a reasonable time. But, is it healthy to have that approach?

The research is plentiful that sleep is crucial and since there are so many factors that affect our nighttime sleep with wake ups to check our messages and see who may have needed us while we were ‘wasting’ time sleeping, delayed sleep onset because of work or play and plain old insomnia; mostly because we are inundated with too much information at our fingertips and can’t turn our brains off…

So for those that don’t value overnight sleep or don’t get enough of it, you may do well with an afternoon siesta. So many cultures still to this day (or at least the older generations) still incorporate an afternoon nap into their day.

Naps can restore your energy level to that which one feels upon awakening, they can give a boost of energy during the day as well as allow one to go later into the evening as it relates to productivity. So how must one incorporate that into your day?

First of all, there are lots of methods out there to try…coffee naps (yes, that’s a thing), nap pods and napercise classes, or just resting your head in your office with a nifty scarf that holds your head up so it doesn’t go flying down in fast momentum towards your desk.

My two favorite and most accessible (and cheapest) options are the coffee nap and the nap scarf. The coffee nap, which sounds dichotomous but can be explained by science and even if you don’t believe in it, it is worth a try. How many times have you drank your coffee in the morning but still felt groggy for another 20 minutes? It’s because that is about the amount of time it takes for the caffeine to ‘kick in’. But instead of walking around in a haze until your coffee kicks in, take that time to take a ‘coffee nap’. It’s a nap that is taken right after you drink your coffee. The coffee with the combination of the rejuvenation of the nap can fuel you for the rest of your day. It can be done in the morning or afternoon. I have inadvertently done this and not realized why I felt so good afterward.

The second option is a neck scarf. It is a simple piece of fabric that you wrap around your neck and it supports your head during a nap so you are not jolted awake during the sleep period. It can be purchased inexpensively online.

If and when you nap during the day, set an alarm and don’t sleep more than 20 minutes. That is the right amount of time to provide rejuvenating effects of the nap. Also, do not nap too late in the evening. Some people will try to take a nap at 8 pm so they can stay up late into the night…if it is done for a short period of time, it may be OK, but a lot of times, it can alter the night sleep cycle and cause you to wake with such a groggy sensation that you can’t enjoy your evening activities.

So, press the ‘reset’ button on your day and take a nap so you feel like your ‘computer’ has been restarted.

-Dr Vyas

Sleepless in NOLA