“Learn from yesterday, live for today, look to tomorrow, rest this afternoon.”
~ Charles M. Schulz, Charlie Brown’s Little Book of Wisdom
Rest is so important for my healing journey right now that one of my doctors actually wrote ‘daily nap’ and ‘one complete rest day each working week’ on a prescription pad for me.
But naps are actually good for everyone. Here’s why:
- Getting all our sleep in one hit is a fairly recent concept. Humans evolved to be biphasic sleepers – having one long sleep period and one shorter one, often taken during daylight hours. This is where the concept of the siesta came from, and it extends back at least as far as early Roman times.
- Napping improves health. It has been shown to reduce the stress hormone cortisol, and to increase human growth hormone, immune function, digestion, sexual function and sex hormone levels. It boosts our ability to heal. Napping makes you healthy AND sexy!
- Taking a short nap increases our post-nap alertness. NASA studies show that a forty minute nap was a more effective boost to cognitive function that caffeine or other stimulants.
- Napping downloads and clears the buffer in our brain, creating space for faster synaptic patterns and associations. After naps that tangle of thoughts in our head is gone and we feel refreshed and are able to think more clearly.
- Naps help us hold and assimilate new information, enhancing our capacity to learn and retain that learning. More sleep, rather than less sleep, is the key to learning complex tasks or information.
- Taking a nap enhances our mood, giving us elevated serotonin and a more relaxed and positive outlook on life.
- Napping prevents burn-out. Short sleeps help us to cope mentally, physically and emotionally by allowing us time to tune out from stress, giving us a break and rebooting our coping mechanisms.
- When we nap our subconcious and unconscious mind are free to work on problems, helping to boost our working creativity and problem-solving ability once we wake.
- Napping enhances memory. Exhaustion does the opposite. Short sleeps glue our brains back together when we’re frazzled, stressed and broken.
- Naps reduce sleep deprivation and can help us get by with less overall sleep.
Most importantly, naps are not only good for us, they make us FEEL good. A nap refreshes, soothes and restores.
If you can’t fit a nap in during the week, at least shoot for one on the weekend. Don’t fight that urge to nap. Especially if you’re tired, stress or unwell. It might be just the thing to get you feeling brighter again.