The Benefits Of Napping

Short napping is the solution to the cycle of weariness, lack of sleep, too much sleep and sleepy days.

There is irony in the subject of napping.Newborn babies nap regularly, with their built-in clocks that tell them when they need sleep.Older babies begin to resist naps; they develop an awareness of their surroundings and don't want to miss anything that might happen while they are put away in their cribs.Toddlers are even worse.They are large enough and mobile enough not only to resist napping, but to climb out of their beds and either skip happily in to see the rest of the family, or secretly play in their bedroom until naptime is over.

By the time children are of school age, naptime usually ends on its own.Children have developed the natural bodily rhythm of sleeping 9-11 hours at night and staying awake all day.Their young bodies work well with this system, becoming tired only when it is time to go to bed.

The irony comes when adolescence hits.The surge of hormones drags the body down and requires that it get much more sleep than during the carefree childhood years.Yet these are the years when school becomes more demanding and activities and interests are plentiful.Adolescents still don't want to miss anything, so they stay up late, get up early and sleep in class.


As adults, the tables have turned and we realize the irony.Our bodies are tired for so many reasons: lack of exercise, poor diet, stress, work, children, finances, and of course, not enough sleep at night.We often trudge through our days longing for a nap, catching a few winks at our desks, on our lunch hour, or in the evening before dinner.Yet if we experience the unusual luxury of actually taking a lengthy nap on a Sunday afternoon, we often sleep far too long, and consequently our inner clock resets itself and we can't go to sleep that night.Thus begins the vicious cycle for the coming week.

The solution to this cycle of weariness, lack of sleep, too much sleep and sleepy days is to schedule in a short nap each day.The Mexican culture has perfected this with the concept of the siesta.Siesta means "nap" in Spanish and the Mexicans set aside time each day when businesses are often closed and children go home from school, so the family can have a time of rest.

They key to finding benefits in napping are to keep the nap short.Thirty minutes or less is plenty.Many bedside clocks now have a nap feature where the owner can press a button, much like the snooze button, and an alarm will go off in 15-20 minutes.This is enough time for the body to relax and fall into sleep mode.Anything shorter than 10 minutes isn't enough, as we hardly begin to dream, and anything over 30 minutes is too much, as we will drop into a heavy sleep cycle that will leave us feeling tired when we awake, but will cause us to be wide awake later when we reach bedtime.

Short naps are beneficial because they give us just enough rest to get us through the rest of the day.We may still feel tired for a few minutes when we are awakened from a short nap, but if we can shake those initial cobwebs, we'll find that our minds become clear and sharp after having a nap.

Try scheduling in a nap each day.If you think you don't have time, set a timer for 15 minutes and see what happens.If nothing else, you will relax your body for those 15 minutes.

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