The Lost Art of Napping

Someone once said “no day is so bad it can’t be fixed with a nap.” That’s my new philosophy on life.

I used to be closet napper. I would drift off during tedious and unproductive meetings. Slump over in my seat on the subway. Pretend to be listening to my wife as I catch a snooze. A couple of times I’d even took advantage of a red light while driving.

I used to think there was a stigma associated with napping. It was only for young children and seniors. Then I had an epiphany. Okay it wasn’t quite an epiphany. More like screw it, I don’t care what people think.

Now it’s a ritual. Whether I’m tired or not, I’m going to work a nap into my schedule. It can be at my desk at work. I close the door, put the phone on call forward and put my head down on my desk. Maybe I’m running errands and decide to park the car, push back the seat, slip off my shoes and close my eyes. At home, I’ll just stretch out on the couch with a pillow under my head and black out. I have no shame!

This ritual isn’t without some guidelines or rules. Like I’m not going to take a nap in a burning building. If I need to be somewhere or get something done, I’m going to meet my commitments. But there are lulls in the day when napping beats the alternative. Yeah, I’ve seem my coworkers on Facebook, Twitters or Amazon.

I try to nap for no more than 20 minutes, and definitely no more than 30. You don’t want to fall into a deep sleep. That’s not napping anymore and you’ll feel groggy when you wake up. The idea of a nap is to wake up refreshed. It’s wise to set an alarm just to make sure you don’t oversleep.

I won’t nap past 3 pm either because it might just interfere with my overnight sleep. For those who are thinking about napping after dinner, that’s a big no-no for me. After lunch, yes. After dinner, forget it.

Ideal napping conditions? A noise-free environment with soft or indirect lighting helps a lot. Loud noises and bright lights will only make it harder to drift off. You don’t want to spend more time falling asleep than actually napping. Some relaxing music helps. Water sounds or harp music are my personal favourites. You need someplace to rest your head. Lying out on a sofa is ideal. But a reclining chair works for me. Someones shoulder (hey why not), resting your head on a desk, whatever is handy. Just make sure you don’t wake up with a kink in your neck. That’s not going to make you feel refreshed. I suggest slipping off your shoes too because your not going to be as relaxed with shoes on. Guys, if you’re wearing a necktie, ditch it.

Looking for a new job? Don’t be shy about asking what their napping policy is. This will be the latest frontier for workplace benefits. Forget about stretching breaks or workplace yoga. You want to get your employer to set up a room with recliners and relaxing music.

This post is making me sleepy….yawn. It’s time for my daily nap.

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