By: Sarah Grace Powers – Confluence Daily is your daily news source for women in the know.
Do you start dreaming about a frappucino or a coke around 3pm every day?
Most of us wrestle with an energy dip sometime between 1pm and 4pm in the afternoon—and, although some believe that if you adjust your diet and lifestyle just perfectly you can avoid this, the truth is your body might just be craving some down time!
After all, you’ve likely been up since 6 or 7 am, and running on full speed for most of those hours. Even if your habit is to roll out of bed closer to 9 am, and stay up into the wee hours, it’s natural to hit a slowdown at some point in the afternoon.
I find this body slow down to be more pronounced when I am spending afternoon at my computer (which is how many of us spend the bulk of our day), although it can hit hard when I’m running errands around town too.
Our culture frowns on the very idea of the afternoon nap. It’s okay for 3-year-olds, but grown adults—and even school children—are expected to power through their days, essentially ignoring any signals from their body.
I live in Mexico, where traditionally a siesta (nap) is considered as an important part of everyone’s day. Although it’s great to see that many locals still follow this habit, unfortunately, many others have jumped on the American bandwagon and have given it up. I think this is a huge loss.
Even though we understand that adequate sleep is important for optimum health, a lot of people consider napping a weakness, even a sort of character flaw, and no wonder—since it’s basically a betrayal of our collective allegiance to Busy-ness.
You know, someone asks you how you’re doing and you say, “pretty good, but super busy.” The conversation then devolves into a sort of competition about who is doing more and who is busier.
We all do it. And we’re all freakin’ busy. Due to this and many other reasons, we often don’t get sufficient sleep time during the night.
That’s why it’s time to revisit the concept of the power nap.
Daytime sleep isn’t for everyone, granted—but the humble nap is experiencing a resurgence of interest for good reason. Even 10 minutes of rest replenishes your system and restores a natural alertness that can last for hours.
Conversely, that double cappuccino (my personal afternoon weakness), or chocolate bar depletes vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients. And while, it gives that blast of brain power and a jolt of energy to your central nervous system, it is often not so long-lasting and over time will work less and less efficiently.
The afternoon caffeine hit is essentially like constantly withdrawing from your energy and vitality bank account. You will either end up overdrawn, or you will be forced to make many more deposits than you normally would.
I can remember years ago talking to a friend of mine who was in management local bank in our small town. He was complaining about that afternoon slump, and I suggested he take a short break and go out to his car, put the seat down and power nap for 10-15 minutes.
He recoiled in horror, “I could never do that!” he exclaimed. “What if someone looked in the window and saw me!?”
Oh, the ignominy! The shame!
No matter how I tried I couldn’t convince him that power naps are healthy and should be indulged in guilt-free by adults. And I know why he wasn’t buying it. The truth is, his co-workers and colleagues probably WOULD have thought less of him for giving himself the gift of a rest.
And that is their loss.
Don’t make it yours. I know it’s not possible for everyone to find a space to take an afternoon power nap. It depends on your workplace, your work requirements, and situation. But if it’s at all possible to say ‘Yes’ to your body’s request for a short reset, instead of heading to the coffee machine or candy dish, there are some solid reasons to do so.
Research has shown that a short nap (up to 30 minutes) can:
- Increase your willpower
- Jumpstart your creativity
- Enhance your motor skills
- Reduce stress
- Actually enhance your ability to sleep well that night (as opposed to the caffeine hit)
- Elevate your mood
These are just a few of the benefits you may experience if you listen to your body and allow yourself a short afternoon rest. As stated above, I think one of the most important benefits is that you’re making a deposit into your Health/Vitality/Energy bank account!
You may protest that you’re ‘just not a napper’, or you can’t sleep in the middle of the day. Or perhaps that if you do fall asleep you wake up totally groggy and out of it so you don’t want to nap.
Not everyone is a ‘natural napper’, this is true. But everyone can definitely benefit from the break that a ‘nap’ will give your body and your mind. So, even if you just lay down (or lean back or whatever you can do), close your eyes, and practice some deep breathing for 3-5 minutes, you will experience some of the same benefits of a nap.
If you are afraid you will fall asleep and wake up groggy, set your phone timer for 10 minutes to assure that you don’t slip into a deep sleep. The less deep sleep of that shorter nap can be just as revitalizing as a nap that takes you into REM, and you don’t feel that sleepiness upon awakening.
I get it. I argue with myself when I’m tired too. It seems like there just isn’t enough time to actually take a rest or a nap. And yes, when I do it, I once again realize how powerful it is.
It’s most apparent to me when I’m on a long drive solo. That sleepiness hits like a sledgehammer if I’m driving long distance in the middle of the afternoon. Coffee doesn’t even help. In those cases it’s literally a matter of life or death and becomes imperative that I pull over for a rest.
I’m embarrassed, I don’t know where to go, I don’t know if I’ll really fall asleep.
But – invariably, once I put my seat back, lock the doors, crack the window, and do some deep breathing I almost always drift off. Sometimes it’s literally only about three minutes or so. But that three minutes completely refreshes me and I’m able to drive without feeling like my eyes are closing and I’m losing control of the wheel.
That tells me that even a 5-minute power nap at home will set me up for a more creative, alert, and productive working afternoon.
Try it out!
Sarah Grace Powers is a certified life coach and EFT Practitioner. She is a ‘dream resuscitator’, helping clients rediscover their passions and reinvent themselves no matter what their age or circumstance. In her previous career she owned and operated an herb shop and has practiced holistic living for over three decades. Find her at sarahgracecoach.com
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