Feeling wiped out? Need an energy boost? Want to shut off your brain for a bit? Celebrate National Napping Day with a well-deserved doze. This year’s snooze fest coincides with Pi (π) Day. Eating pie and taking a nap sounds like the perfect combination, doesn’t it?
History of this Sleepy Holiday
Boston University professor William Anthony Ph.D. and his wife Camille founded National Napping Day in 1999 as a way to spread awareness about getting enough sleep. They timed it to fall the day after the start of daylight saving time which is the second Sunday in March. The Anthonys figured it would help people recover from losing an hour of sleep during the yearly “spring forward” clock change.
Napping is not a new concept. Historians believe the Ancient Greeks, Romans, and Arabians took regular naps as a way to re-energize and avoid the hottest part of the day. The Spanish were big nappers, too, and continue this way of life by taking daily siestas. Americans do not have much of a nap culture and tend to view naps as indulgent, unnecessary, and nearly impossible to schedule into a busy day. Our country is also sleep-deprived as a whole.
Do I really need that much sleep?
According to the CDC, adults should get at least seven hours of good sleep per 24 hours. One in three American adults is not getting the recommended amount of sleep and more than that are not getting good quality sleep. Disrupted or disordered sleep and skimping on duration can have some pretty serious health consequences.
People who do not get enough good quality sleep are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, depression, strokes, hypertension, coronary artery disease, cardiac arrhythmias, and obesity. These chronic diseases often lead to disability and premature death.
Attaining the recommended quantity and quality of sleep is important for your physical health and cognition. Specifically, naps can increase alertness, decrease stress, and brighten our mood. A power nap of 20 to 30 minutes can vastly improve one’s energy level and ability to concentrate on tasks. Perhaps employers should consider offering nap time as a work perk to boost productivity and employee morale!
Naps: Yea or Nay?
I am excellent at taking naps. I come from a long line of women who have prioritized midday slumber and fully embrace nap culture. My husband, on the other hand, was raised to stay awake all day after toddlerhood. He says he can’t remember his parents ever taking a nap. I can’t remember my mother ever not taking a nap! My husband usually gives me the side-eye when I say I want to take a nap. He knows better than to call me lazy but I know that’s what he’s thinking.
For me, taking naps is not about being lazy. It’s about improving the quality of my life. Naps allow me to re-energize and become a more patient, attentive mother. When I am struggling emotionally, naps are my favorite defense mechanism. They help me shut off my anxious thoughts and catch a few moments of peace. An afternoon disco nap provides enough rest to fuel a late night out with my girlfriends. And quite often, a nap permits me to stay up late to binge Netflix and enjoy some treasured Me Time.
My best friend is not a napper. She says a short nap, even 20 minutes long, will leave her feeling lethargic, dizzy, and sometimes even nauseous. She will only sleep in the daytime when she’s feeling sick. I’ve heard other people mention that naps make them feel even more sleepy than before laying down. Apparently, naps aren’t for everyone.
How do I become an excellent napper like you, Jenna?
- Tell your judgy husband to quit it with the side-eye and that naps make you into a nicer human. He should be glad you’re taking 30 minutes to recalibrate your attitude.
- Silence your phone. Or better yet, leave your phone in a different room. It’s easy to fall down a TikTok rabbit hole and squander time that should’ve been spent resting.
- Tell your Alexa or Google Home or Hatch or whatever sound machine you have to play soothing background noise. I especially like ambient noise – rainfall. I crank it up high to drown out other noises in the house. You can also wear earplugs.
- Make your room as dark as possible. Shut the blinds. Pull the curtains closed. Invest in some room darkening shades. Put on a sleep mask. You’re going for the ambiance of a cave.
- Play “Let’s Make A Deal” with your partner. Ask your partner to keep an eye on the kids while you nap, then wake up and let your partner have some free time. Rest easy knowing your children have one alert parent on duty.
- Try sleeping with a weighted blanket. It feels like a cozy hug. It pairs best with air conditioning set to freezing cold.
- Use your lunch break to take a quick nap in the car. Or pull a George Costanza and sleep under your desk.
On this National Napping Day, I wish you sweet dreams and restful sleep!