THE BENEFITS OF NAPPING
Fun fact: there are five words in the Italian language that describe the act of napping: riposo, il posino, il sonnellino, sonnecchiare and la siesta. Our interpersonal relationships aside, our relationship with sleep is arguably the most important relationship we’re likely to have in our lifetimes, along with food. Our very survival depends on it. But outside of the Mediterranean, few of us give napping its due airtime. Seen as the “snacking” of sleep, napping is often dismissed as laziness. Yet, more and more research points to the fact that we should take our afternoon snooze a lot more seriously. It’s linked to a healthier diet, higher overall activity levels and healthier ageing, to name only a few benefits. So, for the nap novice, how should you approach your forty winks?
THERE’S A REASON IT’S CALLED FORTY WINKS
… And not 400. A nap should be exactly that, a nap, and shouldn’t compete with your nightly slumber. The ideal siesta should take no longer than 10 or 20 minutes. The longer your nap, the more it infringes on your night-time sleeping patterns, resulting in lower quality rest in general. Children and young adults, however, can tolerate longer naps in the afternoon.
FOREGO FORTY WINKS AT FOUR
Don’t say that too fast. If you haven’t had your snooze by 3 pm, skip it, unless you have a specific reason to sleep later in the day linked to your health or medication you’re taking. The late afternoon is too close to night and could interfere with your regular sleeping patterns. If you continue to crave sleep at this time – and feel you get enough sleep otherwise – chat to your doctor just in case.
CREATE YOUR PERFECT DREAM SPACE
A good night’s rest (or mid-afternoon doze) has a lot to do with how restful your environment is – and how conducive it is to quality sleep. The Japanese may engage in inemuri (sleeping at their desks at work) and Londoners might doze off on the tube, but nothing lends itself better to a good quality snooze than a quiet place with a comfortable ambience and room temperature. If the sounds of whales singing do it for you, stream them to your Bluetooth speaker and let it wash over you.
CLEAR YOUR HEAD
Yes, there’s a lot you could worry about, but would it make much of a difference if you didn’t worry about anything for the next half an hour? Not really. In fact, you’ve probably gone longer without checking your emails. Take a load off. You deserve it. Dwelling on the things you know are a source of stress are not conducive to quality sleep. The Indonesians practice something called todoet poeles, or “fear sleep”, which sounds more horrifying than it sounds. It’s actually a coping mechanism employed when anxiety gets the better of you.
IF ALL ELSE FAILS, CONSIDER A COFFEE NAP
A what? Surely not. Thing is, caffeine takes about an hour to kick in, so let’s do the maths. If you had your afternoon cuppa joe at, say, 2 pm and then reclined with a good (but not too good) book and fell asleep about half an hour later, the caffeine should naturally start luring you back to life at around 3 pm. Perfect timing.