Today I am visiting my family in Las Vegas. But with my nephew being only 9 months old, there seems to be an obligatory nap time that overtakes the house. Everyone is asleep. The baby, my sister, my brother-in-law, all napping. My oldest sister (who flew in from CO for this visit) happens to be snuggled up under a blanket dozing on the couch next to me as I type. Two dogs are curled up on the couch, and one on the floor, all snoozing away. I feel like I stepped into that scene from Sleeping Beauty where the sleeping spell is cast over the entire kingdom!

With everyone passed out this late in the afternoon (and for an extended period of time too!) I can’t help but wonder, am I going to be the only one who sleeps tonight? I mean, who hasn’t been told at some point to “be careful with napping or you’ll mess up your sleep schedule!” I’m sure with a baby there’s a caveat. I’m not a parent nor have I had the “privilege” of being awakened after only a few hours of sleep because a tiny human needs me. But even those of us who are not parents often find napping to be an enjoyable pastime.

I don’t think there’s any argument that sleep is important for our health. Sleep allows our bodies to reset and our cells to renew. It brings us new energy and focus.  And it’s flat out delightful, just sayin.’ 🙂

So, to bring some clarity to the pro’s and con’s of napping, here are some tidbits, courtesy of the Sleep Foundation:

  • Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, and Winston Churchill were all regular nappers
  • napping is an important part of many cultures (siesta anyone?)
  • napping doesn’t necessarily compensate for bad sleep, or not enough sleep, during the night
  • power naps (10-30 minutes) improve alertness without causing grogginess or disrupting nighttime sleep
  • the time of day at which we nap needs to be just right (think Goldilocks) . . . too early and we may not be ready to catch some zzz’s, too late and we can disrupt our nighttime sleeping
  • one study on astronauts and military pilots showed a 40-minute nap when sleepy to improve performance by 34% and alertness by a whopping 100%
  • if we already have trouble sleeping at night, daytime napping will only make it worse
  • napping can be followed by “sleep inertia” (the period of feeling disoriented or groggy after deep sleep) which may last longer than normal with longer naps and can therefore impair our performance on subsequent tasks
  • for best results, nap in a quiet, dim, comfortable space

sleep do's and don'ts

It’s obvious that napping may not be ideal at all times or in all situations, and it probably shouldn’t be used as a replacement for good, quality nighttime sleep (unless there’s a baby in the house)! But overall? A quick nap can be a happy escape and opportunity to feeling energized, focused and ready to conquer the rest of the day!

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