The Importance of Finding your own Napping Nirvana
Never underestimate the power of a good nap.
New parents are often told to sleep when their baby sleeps – no matter the time of day. It’s sound advice for people who will not get a solid night’s sleep for months or even years to come. But what about when the kids get older and aren’t taking naps any longer? Can a parent still nap? Like most things, it depends on the person.
“Give me 15 minutes and I can take a nap just about anywhere,” said Maria, mom of two.
Fellow mom, Jana, told me, “I was upset when my boys stopped napping because I couldn’t nap either. I needed that nap. Now, my life is just too busy.”
Mother of three, Laura, still enjoys a nap for herself even after her young kids have outgrown them. “I’ve found that I’m a much better mom if I can take a nap when I’m really tired. It takes a bit of thought to ensure that they are safe while I rest; usually I put a movie on and nap while they watch it. Without a doubt, I am a better parent post-nap.”
I recently had a conversation with Dow P. Winscott, a psychotherapist and psychology instructor at the College of DuPage, who wrote a book about this topic. “The Art of Napping” is a humorous look at the good side of napping. He jokes, “Let’s face it, if you are anywhere south of the age of about five, talking about your nap is almost certain to raise the questioning eyebrow of anyone within easy earshot – this despite the fact that those with the mildly disapproving look on their faces may have enjoyed a delicious nap themselves just hours ago.”
Winscott explains in the book that there is a difference between falling asleep and taking a nap. “You don’t just “fall” into a nap. You deliberately set out to “take” a nap, as surely as you would take a walk, take a drive or even take on the world. It’s an action verb devoid of passivity. You control it and you should take full advantage of that control.” He broke down naps into four categories: the power nap, the preemptive nap, the restorative nap and the pure pleasure nap.
The Power Nap: This is a fairly brief nap, maybe 15 minutes long, which is taken in the middle of a work day. Its purpose is rejuvenation. According to Winscott, “One of the amazing things about power napping is the level of dedication to be found amongst its devotees. It’s the best evidence to me that it must work.” Power naps are beneficial for people who can sneak away in the office or take a break from their home-based business or childcare duties.
The Preemptive Nap: These naps are taken when we know there will be lost sleep in our future. By taking a preemptive nap, we are able to maintain physical and emotional balance for a longer than usual. This type of nap has been proven successful for those who have a second job or are taking courses at night. These naps range in time from 30 minutes to a little over an hour.
The Restorative Nap: This is a recharging nap used to counteract a lack of nocturnal sleep. Fifteen to thirty minutes of nap is typically enough to get your motor running and back on track for the day.
The Pure Pleasure Nap: To take this type of nap is to “elicit that incredibly freeing feeling that you only experience when you give yourself permission to just drift off, leaving behind the cares and stresses of everyday life.”
Most parents, whether they nap or not, will agree that there are clear benefits to naps. They are restorative. They are stress-relievers. They allow a person to remove himself from the chaos of the day for a short time. Naps are also free of charge and calories. They are better than taking a break for a latte and a smoke.
School is coming to a close and the long days of summer lie ahead. There are opportunities for lounge chair naps at the beach, at the pool or in our backyard. To my fellow parents out there, happy napping!