I was raised as a Biphasic sleeper. It's true. While most kids are told eventually that they've outgrown a daily nap, sleeping twice in any 24 hour stretch (one daytime nap and one evening sleep) was common practice in my family. As a young girl, I took afternoon naps with my father. He'd come home for lunch and then doze in his recliner before returning to work, and I adopted the habit too. Like my dad, I found that getting horizontal once a day (in addition to healthy night time sleep) made me more energetic, calmer and even more creative.
Why is Napping Important to Me?
I live a very full life with a packed schedule of travel (2 free weekends in 2012 and 4 in 2013). I can't afford to get sick and it's my job to be full of life and energy for the trainings and workshops I offer. People ask me for my secret all the time, because I really do work all hours. It's easy, really. HORIZONTAL TIME. Specifically, a daily nap -- whenever and however I can get it.
Why You Should Nap: The Benefits of Napping
From increased creativity and memory to decreased cortisol & adrenaline (stress hormones), napping is a wonder. Many animals nap throughout the day, while adult humans (at least in the US) don't take the time to nap. But taking a load off is not laziness -- it's good sense! Because of our natural circadian rhythms, we are at our most tired TWICE during any given 24-hour period. Usually the peak of sleepiness will hit mid afternoon, which is a natural "siesta" time. Rather than powering through mindlessly, consider that a nap can also reset your brain's ability to hold and manipulate information. In 20 to 30 minutes of napping, you can increase your productivity by quite a bit. If you're not a daytime sleeper (and I know some who just can't make it happen) consider just laying flat on your back (a quick tanning session or a lunchtime facial can do the trick in a pinch).
Advanced Napping: Yoga Nidra
At many of my teacher trainings and life coach trainings, I teach what I like to call, "Advanced Napping", or Yoga Nidra, to my students, co-facilitators, and assistants. Yoga Nidra is deep conscious sleep, beyond the dream state, and it allows the napper to reach deep rest and a relaxed brain-state very, very quickly, sometimes in as little as ten minutes. It's common for me to yell, "HORIZONTAL TIME!" at team meetings, and strange as it sounds, everybody does it (in their own rooms, of course).
How to Build the Perfect Nap
There are many creative ways to squeeze in a daily nap or at least a small space of time to be horizontal (at rest). Take a quick nap on your office floor, or in your car. If 20 to 30 minutes of shut-eye seems unlikely, I've even been known to sit on the toilet with my head down and rest for a shorter stretch.
To avoid falling off into a dream state or REM state and waking up groggy and foggy, I try to time my naps so that I wake before this happens. If my alarm goes off when I'm mid-dream, it feels like sleep robbery. Horizontal time is meant to revive and NOT deprive. For me, 30 minutes is the magic number. But a scant 10 minutes can get the job done -- anything to disrupt the rhythm of the day and reset your brainwaves is effective. Whatever works, WORKS! Any location, any time, any method that allows you a mental break is perfect. You decide.
So next time the afternoon goes hazy, consider getting horizontal. It'll do you a world of good. I know it does for me.