Remember those midday naps we were called away from playtime for when we were kids?
I hated them. It seemed like they lasted forever and we spent more time pretending to be asleep, waiting for the moment to be told we could get up - fake yawning and returning to play - than we did actually resting.
Now I schedule naps into my Google Calendar when necessary. I take my lunch break and will walk my tail out to my car and close my eyes for 15 minutes. With all the conversations about self-care, I recognize that we often leave out the simplest and most important forms of self-care in favor of the fancier, pop cultural fads. Getting the daily rest we need is one of the best self-care tenants we can live by. As women on the rise, we've got people to see, things to do, and places to be and we need to be at our brightest, quickest, and most alert to make the moves we're here for. We need to rejuvenate on the regular. Adequate naps help tremendously with that.
My girlfriends and I agree: We regret the naps we goofed our way through as kids and will dare anybody to disturb the few we get now. It's hard enough trying to adult and get enough rest but when you throw in the curveball of how to get adequate rest, it can all become a bit trickier.
You might think, "Well, don't you just close your eyes and drift to sleep?" Not necessarily. Consistent studies show that there are proven ways to ensure you're napping to the best of your ability and getting the most out of each nap you take. I've taken the liberty of pulling some of the best tips to getting the best abbreviated shut-eye:
Limit Naps To 30 Minutes Or Less.
According to sleep.org, napping for longer than 30 minutes can counteract the benefits of a nap, which include alertness, enhanced performance, and a better mood. A nap is not supposed to take the place of actual sleep. Think of it as a quick recharge to a smartphone battery halfway through the day. If you charged your phone the night before, halfway through the next day you're perhaps between 65% and 55%. All the phone needs is a little boost in battery power to ensure it isn't completely dead by the end of the day.
It's Not Weird To Feel Tired Halfway Through The Day.
We've all felt that midday slump. You know, the sudden lack of motivation and energy that many of us override with caffeine. That less-than-energetic feeling around say, 2 or 3 p.m. doesn't (necessarily) mean anything is wrong. It's just that our bodies are not machines running on an endless supply of electricity. Our bodies run on what we put into them, how much (and the quality of) rest we get, our physical activity, and our mental/emotional health. Needing a rest in the middle of the day is essentially the way our bodies are designed. Factoring in how to get that rest should be a daily practice for everyone.
You Need A Good Night's Rest
If you're only getting a couple of hours of sleep each night because you're burning the midnight oil or you're binge-watching Being Mary Jane for the fifth time, a nap won't really do you any good the next day. Your body will always be struggling to make up for what it lost during the night. Naps are supplementary to your nightly sleep. The number differs by an hour or two but between 7 and 9 hours of sleep are necessary for peak productivity and better day-to-day health.
Sleeping In The Dark Is Most Effective
Light activity keeps the brain moving, expecting, waiting for something. Darkness allows the brain to settle itself and the body to relax, not expecting anything but rest. When at work, try finding an unoccupied room, setting your phone alarm for a good 15 to 20 minutes, turning out the lights, and dozing off. If that isn't an option, try using your car as Nap Central! Lay the seat back and apply a sleep mask over your eyes.
Try Meditation Apps
Apps like Calm, Headspace, Mindfulness , and MINDBODY (all available for iOS and Android) help you to practice mindfulness, meditation and rest. So, even if you can't take a nap during the day, you can still use one of these apps to close your eyes and allow your body to find its calm and center itself.
What ways can you begin to be more mindful and proactive about getting more rest? Let us know in the comments!
Featured image by Getty Images.
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