As a busy entrepreneur who is also the mother of an even busier toddler, you might imagine my days are scheduled by the minute and packed tight with meetings, conference calls, walks to the park and library classes – and they are. But I want to confess one habit I keep almost daily that will completely contradict your vision of a fast-paced, work-from-home mom.
Yes, picture that! I prioritize about one hour of every afternoon during which I close my laptop, turn off my phone and snooze. I’m highly protective of this time and avoid scheduling meetings, calls or work projects if I can help it in any way. What I’ve found is something quite remarkable, that the days I go off the grid to re-energize, I actually accomplish more in less time than the days I forego my midday slumber.
There have been days when my to-do list was just far too long to justify a nap and I found that my creativity, efficiency and passion for my work substantial declined to the point where had I just stopped to rest, I would have accomplished the same amount of work in that time and likely would have done a better job. Now these are simply my own findings, but it got me thinking if this whole “nap habit” was something anyone else had caught on to or if it was my own justification for shutting down as soon as I got the least bit fatigued. I discovered I am in very good company.
According to this article, some pretty incredible people were habitual nappers. I’m talking Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan to name a few. Now, I’m not saying this was the only thing that led to their world-changing successes, but I do find it intriguing that this is one aspect of their lifestyles that they had in common.
The Benefits of Napping
Simply google the phrase “benefits of napping” and you will have more than enough material to convince you thoroughly. I highly suggest trying it out to experience these surprising health benefits first-hand. This article does a great job of highlighting some of the best ones. To summarize:
- Boosts alertness – Even just 20 minutes has been shown to drastically increase alertness once you fully wake up
- Improves learning and memory – Brain activity remains higher in nappers all day compared to people who don’t take a rest
- Increases creativity – A nap is like an intensified way of walking away from a problem to find a solution. It’s amazing how you can come back to that issue that had stumped you before and come up with several new ways to solve it in minutes.
- Boosts productivity – Studies have shown that a nap is more powerful than a cup of coffee to get you going again.
- Puts you in a good mood – Here’s a simple example, have you ever been around a toddler pre-nap and post-nap? I “rest” my case.
- Zaps stress – Even if it’s only for a short period (say 10 minutes), the sheer luxury of escaping for a nap can be a great stress-reliever.
How to Prioritize Your Nap
- Make it the same time every day
First, pick a time of day that general works best for you. When do you not have any other standing obligations? When do you normally feel most fatigued or distracted? When can you go “off-line” without anyone really missing you? Once you determine your nap time, respect it as part of your schedule just as you would any other commitment.
- Shut down all other distractions
Next, make the most of the precious time you carve out for your nap by turning off your phone and removing your computer from eye-sight. Don’t turn on the TV or read a book, rather lay down, close your eyes and let your mind rest.
- Set your alarm
To ensure you don’t get carried away with your nap (which can negatively impact the rest of your day by creeping into the time allotted for other tasks or making it hard to fall asleep at night), set your alarm. I have napping down to an art where I am asleep within a minute or two of closing my eyes and as soon as I hear my alarm, I spring back into action. You may need to experiment to find the perfect nap length that rejuvenates you without making you groggy, but once you find this sweet spot it is totally worth it!
- Napping is a priority, but also a privilege
Finally, remember that while napping is a healthy habit, you have to earn your nap each and every day by working hard when you are awake and being efficient with your time. For me, I know if I want that afternoon rest, I need to stay focused all other hours of the day, plan ahead and prioritize.
I’ll close with this final thought. Why do we believe that napping is something we must grow out of at a certain age? Just as it’s a healthy and necessary habit for my toddler to take his daily nap, I believe it’s just as healthy and necessary for us adults. Our daily activities may be different than a 1-year-old’s, but they are just as stimulating and demanding in their own way. Many cultures embrace an afternoon nap as a time to reset, allowing you to return to your duties with a fresh mind.
For as long as I continue to benefit from it, I will embrace the lifestyle of a habitual napper. While there are many more ways in which I could urge you to do the same, I’d rather end this article here so I can settle down for my nap.
Do you believe that daily napping could make you more effective at your job? Share why or why not by commenting below!