To nap or not to nap…

Naps.

The thing kids hate and adults (frequently) cherish. 

There is a lot of controversy about naps.  Am I napping because I’m depressed?  Will it just make me more tired?  Will a nap mess up my night sleep? 

The thing is, like most things in health and wellness (and life!), it all depends.  The answers to those questions above could just as easily be no or yes.  It depends on the person.  Even more, it depends on the unique current situation that person is experiencing. 

Interestingly, I think most of us would agree that if someone is sick, a nap is totally appropriate.  Why?  Because they need to heal.  Their body is stressed and working hard and the extra rest makes sense to support that effort.    

What if I offered the idea that YOUR body is stressed and working hard and the extra rest makes sense to support that effort? 

You’re not sick?  That’s OK…I was hoping you weren’t.  But that doesn’t change my thought process.

We are all stressed.  Life is nutty.  The world is not the place we believed it was when we were eleven years old.  And yet, I have clients telling me more and more frequently, “I’m not stressed”.  If that is true, please tell me how you do it…because I’m stressed. 

Stress isn’t all bad.  There are good stressors and bad stressors.  The way we eat (or don’t) can stress our bodies.  Our work-outs can stress our bodies.  Work deadlines and bills are stressors.  Worries and fears are stressors.  Stress is part of life.

And sometimes when it all gets really heavy, a nap may be just what you need to regain a little perspective, squeeze out a little more energy for the day or discover some creativity…or to simply heal.

When looking for the way naps can support our health, I love this table published by The Institute for Functional Medicine (and recreated by me here):

Nap Duration Potential Health Benefits
10-20 minutes Reduces sleepiness; improves cognitive performance; increases alertness, attention and energy levels; improves mood, improves motor performance; reduces stress levels
20-30 minutes Enhances creativity; sharpens memory
30-60 minutes Sharpens decision-making skills, including memorization and recall; improves memory preservation
60-90 minutes Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is critical for problem solving; helps make new connections in the brain; enhances creativity; reduces negative reactivity; promotes happiness

One other quick thing about naps that I want to throw out there – don’t shame yourself for wanting or needing or taking a nap.  Napping is part of self-care and does support your overall health.  In fact, I write some folks prescriptions for naps!

Just like other behaviors, if it gets in the way of your obligations and responsibilities, then napping may be an escape route or the sign of something bigger going on.  In that case, chat with your healthcare provider or coach or friend about what is going on. 

So…if they’re not already there, toss “naps” into your self-care toolbox for use when needed.  And when it’s right, find a dark, comfortable spot, set an alarm on your phone (or otherwise) and close your eyes.  Even if all you do is “rest your eyes”, it’s lowering your stress and helping your body heal!

Sixty-second Self-care Tip

Naps really don’t work for everyone’s schedule.  If you just don’t have time to actually relax and sleep for 10-20 minutes, consider taking your sixty-seconds for self-care and simply lying down.  Lying flat for a minute can be very calming for tired and stressful times. 

And if you want to take it up a notch, try the yoga pose known as Legs Up a Wall.  It is exactly what it sounds like - lay flat with your bum near the floor, door or headboard (like you're sitting on the wall) and then rest your extended legs against the wall and relax.  

Naps are one of many different ways you can calm some of the neurological stress in your body - and that is going to help with food sensitivities!  Looking for other self-care activities to help with your histamine intolerance and food reactions?  Request a FREE copy of my resource, 7 Steps to Minimize Histamine Intolerance!


Tags

60-second self-care, resilience, self-care, sleep, stress


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